Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Sallie Mae Student Loans is a great option for students who want a low interest rate from a respected and recognized lender. Part-time students will find the biggest benefit since many lenders won’t service their applications.

Fixed APR
4.25%–12.35%
Loan Amount
$1K to 100% of costs
Fees
$25 or 5% late fee
SimpleScore
4.2 / 5.0
close
SimpleScore Sallie Mae 4.2
Max Fixed APR 3
Perks 5
Transparency 4
Loan Amount 5
Fees 4

Sallie Mae is a student loan giant that funds loans for full-time and part-time students.

If you’re looking for a private student loan to help pay for your college, Sallie Mae is probably a name you’ve seen before. Founded in 1972 as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), Sallie Mae offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs as well as professional training courses and parent loans. The bank is now completely private after it split into two companies in 2014, with the new entity — Navient — servicing federal student loans.

If you go with Sallie Mae, you’ll find great rates and flexibility for your personal loans — even if you’re only going part-time. All of these factors should put Sallie Mae at the top of your list for funding your education.

Sallie Mae Disclosure

Sallie Mae Disclosure: 1. This information is for undergraduate students attending participating degree-granting schools. Borrowers must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents if the school is located outside of the United states. Non- U.S. citizen borrowers who reside in the U.S. are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident) and are required to provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID to verify identity. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1000. Currently credit and other eligibility criteria apply. 2. This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42. 3. Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: first to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

Check Your Student Loan Rates

View our top-rated lenders and find the best rates today. It’s quick and easy.

In this article

    Sallie Mae at a glance

    LenderLoan AmountAPRTermsKey Benefit
    Sallie Mae$1,000 to 100% of school-certified expenses1.25%–11.15% variable; 4.25%–12.35% fixed5–20 yearsPart-time students qualify

    *Rates accurate as of September, 2020

    What we like about it

    Sallie Mae student loans are recognized, respected and accepted in schools all over the country. The bank stands out among private student loan lenders by offering loans to part-time students and a 0.25% discount for people who make their payments by automatic withdrawal from their bank accounts.

    Undergraduate students can also take advantage of some learning resources provided by Sallie Mae like four free months of Chegg study help for any subject that you might be struggling with.

    Things to consider

    You won’t be able to get a personalized rate quote from Sallie Mae without having a hard pull show up on your credit report. This usually causes a small dip in your credit score and can be frustrating if you’re only comparing shopping and not sure you want to go with Sallie Mae.

    If you find yourself in hard times and struggle to make your payments, you can request a three-month forbearance. Unfortunately, Sallie Mae only offers 12 months of forbearance total over the life of the loan, which could cause trouble if you have financial trouble multiple times over the course of a 20-year repayment period.

    What you need to know

    Sallie Mae covers just about any college program you might consider enrolling in. Its main student loan product is the Smart Option Student Loan for undergraduate students.

    However, undergrads aren’t the only ones who can benefit from working Sallie Mae. The lender also offers specific loans for medical, dental and law school, MBA programs, graduate school for health professions, general graduate programs and career training programs. You can also take out a Sallie Mae student loan to help cover your living expenses when you’re preparing for the Bar Exam or going through medical and dental residency. Lastly, parents can also take out a loan for their students through Sallie Mae’s parent loan program.

    The terms and interest rates will vary quite a bit depending on which loan best fits your educational needs. Sallie Mae student loan rates can be as low as 1.25% for a variable rate undergraduate loan for a career training program.

    Your repayment terms will also vary significantly depending on your program. The shortest term is five years, but some loans, like those for medical and dental school, can come with a 20-year term.

    On most of its loans, Sallie Mae offers three repayment options — deferred repayment, $25 fixed repayment and interest repayment. The deferred plan allows you to wait until after you finish school plus a grace period to begin making payments. In the fixed payment option, if you pay $25 each month while you’re in school, you can shave a lot off your total after you graduate. If you go with the interest repayment plan, you pay the accrued interest every month while you’re in school to keep your balance as low as possible so you can pay it off easier after graduation.

    To apply for Sallie Mae student loans, you can hit the big yellow ”Apply Now” button at the top of any page on the Sallie Mae website, which will take you to an application page. You’ll indicate whether you’re a student, cosigner or parent/sponsor and then provide the degree program and school you’re applying for. You’ll then fill out your personal and financial information. Once Sallie Mae has all of your info, it will give you a specific rate for the loan you chose.

    Sallie Mae vs. Discover

    Discover SimpleScore: 4.6/5

    Sallie Mae and Discover are recognized as two of the best student loan providers around — and for good reason. Both offer comparably low interest rates, service multiple degree programs and offer no origination fees. Discover offers rewards for excelling in school while Sallie Mae offers loans for part-time students.

    Read our full Discover student loans review.

    Sallie Mae vs. College Ave

    College Ave SimpleScore: 3.8/5

    College Ave Student Loans also compares very similarly to Sallie Mae for loan programs and interest rates. Sallie Mae’s interest rates are slightly higher for people with excellent credit — 4.25% fixed APR for an undergraduate loan compared to College Ave’s 3.54% fixed APR. However, if you have average or poor credit and worry you’ll get a high interest rate.

    Read our full College Ave student loans review.

    Sallie Mae Disclosure: 1. This information is for undergraduate students attending participating degree-granting schools. Borrowers must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents if the school is located outside of the United states. Non- U.S. citizen borrowers who reside in the U.S. are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident) and are required to provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID to verify identity. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1000. Currently credit and other eligibility criteria apply. 2. This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42. 3. Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: first to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

    College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. Information advertised valid as of 09/24/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the student loans we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

    Max Fixed Rate

    Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.

    Perks

    We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.

    Transparency

    Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

    Loan Amount

    Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 

    Fees

    We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

    Trevor Wallis

    Contributing Writer

    Trevor Wallis is a St. Louis-based personal finance writer who teaches people how to achieve freedom through good money practices. He’s written for Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Rewards Credit Cards and Online Loans. When he isn’t writing, he’s roasting specialty coffee and planning new ways to use credit card rewards to explore the world with his wife and newborn son.

    Reviewed by

    • Adam Morgan
      Adam Morgan
      Senior Editor

      Adam Morgan is a senior editor at The Simple Dollar and an award-winning journalist who’s covered finance and culture for 15 years. His writing has been featured in The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The AV Club, and elsewhere.