Sallie Mae is one of the largest private student loan providers in the United States. It has financed more than 1.4 million households since 2014.
Like other lenders, it offers competitive undergraduate and graduate loan rates. But unlike other lenders that only offer loan options for degree seekers, Sallie Mae also offers loans for job training, certificate programs, bar exam prep, and medical school internships. With its wide variety of loan options, Sallie Mae is our choice for the top student lender for graduate school and non-degree programs.
Sallie Mae Student Loans Overview
How old is Sallie Mae? It has a 56% market share in private student loan origination, which means more than half of all private student loans come from Sallie Mae. Last year, it issued more than $5 billion in loans.
Sallie Mae is a common choice because it offers borrowers a variety of loan options, multiple on-campus repayment options, and a few extras.
- Loans available for job training, bar exams, and residency
- Cosigner released a year later
- Multiple on-campus repayment options
- Late fees apply
- No loan prequalification
- High credit score required
- Parent Loan Program Termination
For most private student loan lenders, enrollment in a degree-granting school — usually a bachelor’s degree program or above — is required to qualify for a loan. Finding loans can be more difficult for students in certificate programs or trade schools.
Sallie Mae addresses this issue with its Smart Option student loans for job training programs. Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, making these items more accessible. Student loan borrowers can take advantage of a variety of on-campus repayment options to make their monthly payments more affordable while they are in school.
Sallie Mae doesn’t list its credit score or income requirements, but usually requires very good to excellent credit, especially for its lowest interest rates. According to Sallie Mae’s 2021 Annual Report, the average credit score of approved students or their guarantors was 750 at the time of approval. Since many college students do not have an established credit history, most applicants will need a guarantor. In fact, Sallie Mae reports that 86% of its private student loans are co-signed in 2021.
If you do need a co-signer, remember that Sallie Mae allows borrowers to request a co-signer waiver. While some lenders will make you wait two to four years before applying for a co-signer release, Sallie Mae allows borrowers to apply after paying interest and principal in full for 12 consecutive months.
Sallie Mae charges no application or origination fees, and there are no prepayment penalties. However, if you pay late, you will incur a late fee. The late fee is 5.00% of the late fee amount or $25, whichever is less.
Sallie Mae’s Services
Through Sallie Mae, students can apply for private student loans for undergraduate school, graduate or professional programs, and career training programs. Sallie Mae also offers savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
What They Offer: Private Student Loans
All Sallie Mae personal loans have a minimum loan amount of $1,000. For undergraduates, vocational trainees and graduate students, the maximum loan amount is the total cost of attending school. For other loan options, such as bar exam study or medical residency, loan maximums may vary. Sallie Mae offers fixed and variable interest rates on all of its loan products.
Unlike other lenders that only offer loans to full-time students, Sallie Mae allows part-time students and individuals enrolled less than half the time to apply for loans.
Depending on the type of loan you have, you may have the following repayment options:
- Immediately: Pay interest and principal in full each month while you’re in school
- Interest Only: Payments pay only the monthly interest accrued while you are in school
- Flat: Pay only $25 per month while in college
- Defer: Defer payment until after you leave school. You typically have a six-month grace period before payment is required.
what they do not provide
When considering a loan from Sallie Mae, consider the following limitations:
No Parent Loan Option: Previously, Sallie Mae offered parent student loans. Unlike other lenders that only allow parents to borrow money to pay for their child’s undergraduate degree, Sallie Mae allows parents to borrow money to help pay for their child’s graduate tuition and career training courses. However, Sallie Mae ceased its parent company loan program at the end of 2021.
No Prequalification: Sallie Mae does not have a prequalification tool. Instead, you must complete an application and agree to a hard credit check to see your eligibility.
No Refinancing: Unlike other lenders, Sallie Mae does not offer student loan refinancing. If you have existing loans that you want to consolidate, you will have to work with another lender.
Sallie Mae’s certificate
Unlike other student loan companies, Sallie Mae originates and services its own loans. Its loans are originated through Sallie Mae Bank, which is regulated by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Licensing and Registration
Sallie Mae makes loans to borrowers in all 50 states.
Awards and Certifications
Sallie Mae is regularly voted a top provider of private student loans. For example, Sallie Mae is on NerdWallet’s list of 16 best lenders.
third party rating
With Sallie Mae’s size, it’s no surprise it’s gotten some negative attention. According to the CFPB’s complaint database, more than 1,500 complaints have been filed over the past five years. Common complaints involve payment difficulties, receiving incorrect information, and problems processing loan servicing.
Sallie Mae has a complicated history. Navient, which was part of Sallie Mae before the company split in two in 2014, has been the target of a CFPB lawsuit over how it handles borrowers’ repayments. Navient lawsuit leads to $1.7 billion settlement.
Accessibility at Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae offers educational resources and calculators on its website, and there are several ways to get customer support.
Sallie Mae’s customer support team is available via live chat or phone during business hours.
Unlike other companies, Sallie Mae does not use a third-party loan servicer; it services loans originating through its platform. If you have any questions about your account or your repayment options, you should contact Sallie Mae.
For existing borrowers, customer support is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST. You can call 800-472-5543 for assistance. Online proxies are also available.
Sallie Mae’s website can be difficult to navigate, and some pages are outdated. For example, there are still pages on Sallie Mae’s website that mention parental student loans, but the company discontinued its parental loan program in 2021.
Finding information on loan terms is not always easy and requires some digging. And since there’s no prequalification option, you’ll have to fill out an application and agree to a hard credit check to see loan terms and rates.
Sallie Mae Customer Satisfaction
Despite its size, there are relatively few Sallie Mae student loan reviews on consumer sites like TrustPilot. However, the few reviews tend to be quite negative.