Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Learn about Sallie Mae student loans for undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students along with Parent loans and look at the various loans rates, terms, and also see their repayment options along with the pros and cons here.

Updated by C Laltlanhlua on 22nd November 2019

SLM Corporation, now commonly known as Sallie Mae, was started as a government-sponsored institution in 1972. After 2004, Sallie Mae became a fully privatized company. They then divided it into 2 different companies in 2014.

The first company is SLM Corporation, which is commonly known as Sallie Mae, which is a private student loan lender who deals with the consumer banking business.

The second company which was birthed from the division of the institution is the Navient Corporation. The Navient Corporation provides student loan servicer facilities for both the Federal and Private student loans and is currently the largest federal student loan servicer.

In addition to lending student loans, the company tries to give transparency in helping students and their families understand their education loans and other financial aid options. Sallie Mae Bank is one of the subsidiaries of SLM Corporation.

List of contents

How to qualify for a Sallie Mae student loan

Sallie Mae student loan is always available for most borrowers. Minors (usually below 18 but may differ from states to states) are required to sign up with a cosigner who has a decent credit score. The minimum credit score required for the loan is not disclosed by the company. Approved applicants in 2016 showed an average FICO score of 748. The majority of borrowers who have registered for the loans have cosigners.

The loans are offered to the other nationalities as well as long as they or their cosigner is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident aliens with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) documentation.

  • The cosigner can be released after a period of 12 monthly payments if the cosigner is anyone but the parents of the borrower

  • The student loan is also provided to part-time students

  • The school should be in partnership with Sallie Mae to get the loan or use the amount.

Smart options for undergraduate students

The smart student loan option for undergraduates is the primary loan which is offered by Sallie Mae. Their benefits are mentioned here.

  • The undergraduate student loan can be used for the Bachelor and Associate degrees and for the Certificate programs too if being offered from a degree-granting institution

  • You can get a 100% coverage for all school-certified student expenses

  • You have no prepayment penalty or origination fee

  • When you list yourself to make monthly payments through auto-debit, you can qualify to get the interest rate to be reduced by 0.25% point

  • The variable interest rate will be between 4.25% to 11.35% APR

  • The fixed interest rate will be between 5.49% to 11.85% APR

  • The repayment option has a deferred fixed repayment option and the interest repayment option too

  • The cosigner can be released after making 12 months of on-time payments

  • You are likely to get the credit Sallie Mae payment loan

  • The decision of the loan application is usually received after 15 minutes from the submission

  • The eligibility for U.S. citizens, if they are attending a degree-granting school within or outside of the U.S., is to be enrolled in a study abroad program.

The following table shows comprehensive details on the Smart Option Loan for Undergraduate Students.

Feature Rates/Percentages/Amounts
Fixed APR 5.49% – 11.85%
Variable APR 4.25% – 11.35%
Loan Terms 5 to 15 years
Loan Amounts $1,000 to 100% of the cost in school certification
Grace period 6 months
Cosigner release available Yes, after 12 full, on-time payments

The interest rates and fees may be subjected to changes.

Sallie Mae Loans for Parents

Sallie Mae offers Parent Loans for undergraduate, graduate, and certification education. The loan amount covers 100% of the cost incurred during the cost of attendance. It has the following factors.

  • No origination fee

  • No prepayment penalty

  • If enrolled in an auto-debit program, you will be getting a 0.25% point reduction in the interest rate

  • Both variable and fixed interest rate are available

  • The variable interest rate on the parent's loan will be between 5.74% to 12.37% APR

  • The fixed interest rate will be between 5.49% to 12.87% APR

  • The loan repayment option gives the borrowers an option to pay interest only when they are in the school for a period of 48 months

  • The borrowers can also pay off their loans sooner by making both the principal and interest repayment when they are in school

The following table shows comprehensive details on the interest rates for the Sallie Mae Parent Loans.

Feature Rates/Percentages/Amounts
Fixed APR 5.49% – 12.87%
Variable APR 5.74% – 12.37%
Loan Terms up to 10 years
Loan Amounts $1,000 to 100% of the cost in school certification
Grace period 6 months
Cosigner release available Yes, after 12 full, on-time payments

The interest rates and fees may be subjected to changes.

Sallie Mae Loans for graduate students

Sallie Mae also provides private student loans for those who plan to seek a Master's or Doctoral degree program. These loans can give total coverage for all the expenses related to school education. It also has no maximum amount fixed for the years taken for graduate school.

  • 6 month grace period is provided to the borrower

  • 48 months of deferment is given at the time of internship or fellowship

  • Eligible borrowers might get 12 interest-only monthly payments after the grace period

  • The repayment period for the borrower is allowed up to 15 years

  • The fixed interest rate is between 4.50% to 10.11% APR

  • The variable interest rate is between 6.00% to 10.23% APR

  • There is no origination fee and prepayment penalties

The following table shows comprehensive details on Sallie Mae Graduate Loans.

Feature Rates/Percentages/Amounts
Fixed APR 5.49% – 11.85%
Variable APR 4.25% – 11.35%
Loan Terms up to 15 years
Loan Amounts $1,000 to 100% of the cost in school certification
Grace period 6 months
Cosigner release available Yes, after 12 full, on-time payments

The interest rates and fees may be subjected to changes.

Sallie Mae Loans for MBA students

Sallie Mae also provides MBA loans which can be used to cover up the cost of the business school as borrowers pursue their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be done.

  • 6 month grace period is given to the borrower

  • No limit on the maximum loan for all years in the business school

  • 48 months of deferment can be provided during an internship

  • 15 years for repayment

  • The variable interest rate on the MBA loan is between 4.50% - 10.11%

  • The fixed interest rate on the MBA loan is between 6.00% - 10.23%

  • International students may also be eligible if they are attending certain schools in the U.S.

The following table shows comprehensive details on the interest rates for the Sallie Mae MBA Loans.

Feature Rates/Percentages/Amounts
Fixed APR 5.49% – 11.85%
Variable APR 4.25% – 11.35%
Loan Terms up to 15 years
Loan Amounts $1,000 to 100% of the cost in school certification
Grace period 6 months
Cosigner release available Yes, after 12 full, on-time payments

The interest rates and fees may be subjected to changes.

Other loans offered

Apart from the above loans, Sallie Mae also offers various other student loans as mentioned below.

  • Career Training Student Loan

  • K-12 Loan

  • Medical Student Loan

  • Medical Residency Loan

  • Dental School Loan

  • Dental Residency Loan

  • Health Professions Graduate Loan

  • Law School Loan

  • Bar School Loan

Repayment options


Immediate repayment 

Making the full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed when you are in school

Deferred payments 

You don't make any payments while you are in school or in your grace period

Fixed Repayment 

You are required to pay $25 for every month when you are in school and in the grace period. The interest rate on it will be around 0.5% lower than the deferred repayment option.

Interest-only repayment 

You pay the interest for every month when you are in school and during their grace period. The rate of interest will be 1% point lower than the deferred repayment option.


In-school deferment 

You can request a deferred payment when you are returning to the school or going towards the graduate school for a period of 48 months.

Military deferment 

The borrower needs to contact the military customer service representative team to get more information. The interest rate is capped at 6% during the eligibility period of military service.

Internship or fellowship deferment 

You can get a deferment in increments of 12 months, up to 60 months maximum for Smart Option Student Loan and up to 48 months for any other student loans.

Postgrad interest 

The borrower may request to make the 12 monthly interest-only payments after finishing the school with a graduated repayment period option.


The borrower may be eligible for 3 months of forbearance at a time, up to 12 months in total during the life of the loan. The borrower must pay $50 per loan with a maximum of $150 per account in order to get a forbearance.

Requirements and other details

This detail of Sallie Mae consists of all the information of the loans from the interest rate, requirement, repayment options, customer service and extra benefits given to the customer.


  • An average FICO Score of 748 (as per the data of 2016)

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a non-U.S. citizen but with a creditworthy cosigner who needs to be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident

  • Attend IV-accredited degree-granting school for a degree or a certificate program

  • Accessible to all the borrowers around all the 50 states, from Washington DC to Puerto Rico

  • Need to be listed halftime or more

  • No details on the Debt to Income Ratio

  • No details on the qualifying for bankruptcy

  • No information on the minimum credit score, minimum income and the typical income for borrowers.

Other details

Online tutoring - Borrowers can get access to Study Starter, which offers you up to 120 minutes of live online tutoring or problem-solving steps to them.

Credit score tracking - You get free quarterly FICO credit scores.

Fund Disbursement - The funds are generally disbursed directly to the school on a certain basis or the student can apply within a 14 days period to get it on their student account. If you receive it yourself then you are responsible to pay the college expenses.

Extra payment towards principal loan - While making extra payments of a loan, you are under a commitment not to pay down your principal balance first. Interest accrues on your loans daily so the total amount you will pay during the repayment can vary based on when to pay the principal.

Income-driven repayment - Unlike the IDR option in federal student loan, there is no offer for income-based payment for private loans. So, no, they do not provide the Income-Driven Prepayment. 

Customer Service

  • There is an in-house customer service team to help you with the loan

  • You can process and escalate queries to the concerned team to get help

  • Borrowers are not assigned to a particular banker or representative

  • The average time for application approval is under 15 minutes.

Discharge, Forgiveness, and Refinancing

There are some nightmare situations if the borrower becomes disabled or dead. In certain cases, the lender comes to the loved ones to collect the money which was owed.

Sadly, private lenders do not forgive the balance of the loan and they try to collect on their due balance regardless of what happens. However, there are certain exceptions to this case.

Sallie Mae is one of the few private lenders who will forgive the remaining loan balance in certain cases like death and disability, providing relief which is needed for the borrower's family.

They do not offer the option to refinance loans like other banks, credit unions, and online lenders provide. You can go for refinancing from lenders like Citizens Bank, Sofi, and Earnest where they provide refinancing for both the federal and private student loans.

Cosigner release

Where some lender doesn't offer this cosigner release at all, some lenders require years of on-time payments before even considering to apply to take your cosigner off the loan.

Here, Sallie Mae asks just 12 months of on-time payments which makes it very easy to get your cosigner off the loan as long as you meet the requirements.

Eliminating your cosigner from the loan of yours can really be helpful in improving the relationship with the person where it can prevent any sort of tension over the money.

The very least and small favor which you can do for him in a good way is to show gratitude to your cosigner for having your back on the loan in all times.

Worried about college tuition? Find out about student loans

Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Even though there are some negative reviews on the Sallie Mae student loans which a lot of involves customer service, some customers say that when they sign up to get the loan payments automatically drafted from their bank account. Sallie Mae takes the payment earlier than they were supposed to. It also seems to be difficult to get in touch with the company to change it.

Rating the features of Sallie Mae

There are several options taken into consideration across all the 5 categories available from various companies and have been rated on the base of three criteria -Average, Below Average, and Above Average.

Number Category Score Criteria
1 Faster Repayment Average Provision of multiple options for repayment and making payments easy
2 Discloses requirement and the limited cost Below Average Limitation of fees and interest rate making underwriting criteria transparent and allowing the borrowers to get a personalized rate and an estimation before they apply
3 Serves a big range of borrowers Above Average Serving customers across different locations and under different financial situations
4 Offers payment flexibility Average Provision of a period longer than 12 months of forbearance, for the military deferment or any other flexible repayment options where it can help the borrowers in their hardships
5 Supports customers Average Assignment of advisor to borrowers and the provision of multiple options to get in touch with the customer service. Provision of a full range of APR range fees and forbearance policies on websites

Pros and cons of Sallie Mae student loan

Being a large student loan lender, Sallie Mae has several benefits and disadvantages. The pros and cons of its student loans are given here. 

Pros of Sallie Mae

The biggest advantage of getting a Sallie Mae loan compared to other student loan companies is that this company is willing to work with a wider range of borrowers. Sallie Mae Loans are also offered to international students who are studying in the U.S.

The application process and approval is very efficient and it can all be done online.

They have a lot of flexibility regarding the repayment options.

If you are a student with Sallie Mae MBA Loan, you can request deferment during eligible internships. They mostly provide products that offer different options for the grace period.

Comparing the interest rates and fees of Sallie Mae with other private student loan lenders, you get a rate that depends on the factors of all your credit history or your cosigner's credit history, whichever applies and the financial situation. To know further information get in touch with them.

  • No application or origination fee

  • No personalized rate before applying

  • No prepayment penalty

  • There are late fees for the repayment

Looking for alternatives of Sallie Mae? Have a look at Top 10 private student loan lenders

Cons of Sallie Mae

It is common for all the financial companies, particularly with the student loan companies, to get customer complaints and issues. Sallie Mae does not let potential borrowers find out what the personalized interest rate would be, without doing an inquiry on the credit score which consequently affects the score negatively.

They also have high-interest rates in comparison to some other borrowers.

Complaints and reviews suggest that customer service does not help much in solving their issues and complaints.

Loan holders also find the interest rate with the company and loan products high.

Sallie Mae's interest rate makes it nearly difficult to pay down with the regular payments.

Apart from the mentioned loans, Sallie Mae does not offer personal Loans. Sallie Mae Personal Loans are separately taken care by one of the subsidiaries of SLM Corporation named Sallie Mae Bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.How do I change my Sallie Mae account password?

    If you’ve already set up security questions, you can reset your password online by answering those questions.

  • 2.How long does it take for documents to get approved in my account?

    The documents can take almost 24 hours to get approved and updated on your account.

  • 3.How do I know if my deferment is processed?

    You can check the status of your deferment request in the Postpone Payments section of your account.

  • 4.Can I make payments while I'm still in school? 

     If you selected either an interest‐only or fixed repayment option, you’ll have to make payments while in school.

  • 5.Are there fees for your account?

    There are no monthly or annual fees, but there may be a few convenience fees which can be avoided.

  • 6.What are linked accounts?

    A linked account is a bank account with another external financial institution that you 'link' to your Sallie Mae account to transfer money between these accounts. 

  • 7.What are micro deposits?

    When you open an account, Sallie Mae makes two small deposits into your external account, then you will have to sign in to your Sallie Mae account to verify these deposits. These deposits will be less than $1. This is purely a security measure.