How to Consolidate Sallie Mae Loans in 2022
Sallie Mae ended its student loan consolidation program in 2008, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lower your interest rate. If you’re a Sallie Mae borrower who missed out, you can refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate and monthly payment.
When you refinance your student loans, you can also combine several loans for a single monthly payment.
If you’re wondering what kind of rates you can get, it’s easy to find out. You can fill out the application form on Credible to see your actual rates from multiple lenders. It’s free, there’s no commitment involved, and it doesn’t impact your credit score.
How Does Student Loan Refinancing Work?
When you refinance, a new lender buys your student loans. The refinancing company gives you a new loan for the total loan amount plus fees. Ideally, the refinance will have a lower interest rate, so that you save money both monthly and for the life of the loan.
Which Student Loans Can You Refinance and Consolidate?
You can refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans. If you have federal loans only, you can get a federal Direct Consolidation Loan. It combines all your existing loans into one loan and averages their original interest rates to calculate your new APR. You can also extend your loan term for a lower monthly payment. Only Sallie Mae loans that are now serviced by Navient qualify for federal consolidation.
Private lenders consolidate and refinance both private and federal student loans. You can also combine both types of loans into a single refinance loan. However, you may lose benefits that come with your federal loans, such as hardship forbearance and public service forgiveness programs.
Are You Eligible to Refinance Your Student Loans?
You may be interested in refinancing your student loans to save money with a lower interest rate. Common eligibility requirements for student loan refinancing include:
- A credit score of at least 670. Some services, such as Credible, accept scores in the average range of 640 to 669.
- A debt to income ratio (DTI) of less than 40 to 50% depending on the lender. You can find your DTI by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income before taxes.
- A solid history of on-time loan payments
You could also qualify for a lower rate if you refinance with a cosigner.
Most lenders also require you to be a U.S. citizen or resident. Some only refinance loans from degree programs, while others offer certificate and career loan refinancing. Lending networks like Credible make it easy to shop around for programs that fit your unique student loan situation.
When Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?
Acting quickly can potentially save you thousands in interest on your student loans. The Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates 4-6 times in 2022. The first increase has already occurred. If you refinance now, you can lock in a lower APR than you’ll be able to get after the next increases.
4 Steps to Get a Student Loan Refinance
1. Shop Around and Get Rate Estimates
It’s best to start by researching multiple lenders. Although they might seem alike, each lender has different features. For example, if you didn’t graduate, you’ll need to find a lender that doesn’t require a completed degree. You can compare offers from multiple lenders side by side on Credible.
Next, you’ll get rate estimates by prequalifying. This requires a soft credit pull and won’t impact your credit. Most lenders ask for basic information, such as:
- Monthly housing cost
- Total student loan debt
- University and degree
2. Pick a Lender and Loan Terms
As you get offers from different lenders, you’ll see fixed and variable interest rates, as well as a range of repayment terms. A variable interest rate usually provides a lower rate to start, but after a certain period, that rate can fluctuate. A fixed interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan.
Most people choose the lender offering the lowest interest rate. You may want to consider any other discounts, like autopay or loyalty discounts, before deciding.
3. Collect Documentation and Apply
When you’ve made a decision on your lender, you’ll complete an application. Most lenders require some documentation, including a government-issued photo ID, social security number, federal and private loan statements, and proof of income.
4. Wait for Approval and Loan Payoff
Once your application is complete, you’ll continue making your payments as usual while you wait for approval. This usually takes about 3 weeks, though it varies by each lender. When your new lender confirms approval, it will pay off your existing lender(s) and you’ll begin making payments to your new lender.
The Best Lenders for Student Loan Refinancing in 2022
I recommend starting the consolidation process for your Sallie Mae loans by exploring these three highly-rated lenders.
When you apply for a student loan refinance on Credible, you’ll receive offers from the extensive partner network in seconds. The site doesn’t pull your credit, so you won’t lose points by shopping around for the best possible terms.
Another good reason to include Credible in your search is its $200 best-rate guarantee. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, you can get $200.
With seven different loan terms and refinancing from $5,000 to $500,000 available, Credible’s solutions will work for most borrowers. In fact, it’s one of the few student loan refinancing sites where you can qualify with average credit. If you need a cosigner, they can get an automatic release after three years of on-time payments.
Like Credible, this company works with several partners to provide instant student loan refinancing quotes.
Splash Financial stands out from the crowd with fee-free, low-interest refinance loans, creating an affordable option for most borrowers. You can also save by signing up for the autopay discount and select from seven different payment terms with a fixed-rate loan.
Splash Financial is also one of the few places where parents can refinance PLUS loans they borrowed for their child’s tuition.
This traditional lender can refinance up to $500,000 in student loans from Sallie Mae and other sources. You can qualify for an interest rate as low as 1.87%, creating ample opportunity to save money.
Citizens Bank has five available terms for student loan refinance and both fixed and variable APRs. You can get refinance offers online in just two minutes without impacting your credit score, then choose from flexible repayment terms to find the best arrangement for your budget.
The Bottom Line
Although you can’t consolidate Sallie Mae loans directly with the lender, you have a few options if you want to save money on student loan payments. Many private lenders refinance and consolidate student loans, which can reduce your debt with better terms and a lower interest rate.
You will need good credit to qualify for most refinance loans, but shopping around can help you find options if you have average credit. Credible is a great place to start your search, as you can see real rates from multiple lenders in just a few minutes.
Taking steps to save on student loans before the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate increase can help you avoid the price hike.
Is Sallie Mae a government loan?
Sallie Mae started as a government agency. However, the company has been a private lender since 2004. Navient Corporation, a subsidiary of Sallie Mae, now services federal student loans. If you have old Sallie Mae loans serviced by Navient, you still have government-backed student loans.
How can I lower my Sallie Mae payments?
Even though Sallie Mae no longer refinances student loans, you can still get a lower payment if you qualify to refinance with another lender. You can consolidate loans from several sources, reduce your interest rate, and extend your loan term to lower your monthly payments with a student loan refinance.
You can see your options on Credible with no impact to your credit score.
Are Sallie Mae loans eligible for loan forgiveness?
Federal loan forgiveness programs waive the remaining balance of federal student loans after several years of on-time payments and dedication to a public service profession such as nursing or teaching. Only previous Sallie Mae borrowers who have Navient-serviced federal loans can qualify. If you got a student loan from Sallie Mae after 2004, you are not eligible for federal loan forgiveness.
Is this a good time to refinance my student loans?
You should definitely act soon if you want to refinance student loans. The Federal Reservee has recently increased its rates, with 4-6 additional increases planned for 2022. As the year progresses, you’ll see much higher refinance APRs, so it’s a good idea to act now.