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Sallie Mae

2022 review

Sallie Mae is a longstanding private student loan provider, serving both part and full-time students. The flexible payment options and limited fees are a huge plus.

9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Ginny Dorn
Ginny Dorn
Personal finance and mortgages specialist
January 6, 2022

Overview

Sallie Mae has been in business for 48 years, with 17 years focused solely on private student loans. It has a longstanding reputation for trustworthiness and offers loans to both part and full-time students. It can provide you with a loan even if you’re a foreign resident or DACA student.

Sallie Mae offers loans for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, dental school, medical school, and law school degrees. It also provides loans for career training, parents, and bar study. You can use its loans for all school-certified expenses. Loans range from $1,000 to 100% of the total cost of attendance.

Keep in mind that Sallie Mae doesn’t offer refinancing. There is no prequalification option, so you must apply to get customized rates. There’s also a limited forbearance of up to 12 months. Despite these drawbacks, Sallie Mae is a good option if you need more than what you can get from federal student loans.

Best Choice 2022
9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Sallie Mae
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Editorial Score
9.0 / 10
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Products & Services

Although Sallie Mae only offers private student loans, it does have specialized loans for just about any type of educational program

Undergraduate Student Loans

Dependent undergraduate students who have the support of their parents for financial assistance are eligible for limited federal loans. If this is your situation, you’ll likely need additional loans to cover college expenses, like tuition, books, room, and board. Sallie Mae offers loans for as much as the total cost of attendance.

Undergraduate loans start at $1,000 and have terms of 5, 10, or 15 years. Variable rates range from 1.13% to 11.23% APR, while fixed rates range from 3.50% to 12.50% APR. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You can lower your interest rate by choosing in-school prepayment and get a 0.25% percentage point reduction by signing up for autopay.

Graduate Student Loans

If you’re going to graduate school to get a master’s degree, a graduate student loan from Sallie Mae offers no origination fees and a 6-month deferment period. You may also be eligible for 48 months of deferment during an internship or fellowship.

Loans start at $1,000 and go up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Variable rates range from 2.12% to 11.64% and fixed rates range from 4.75% to 12.11%. Graduate student loans are for 15-year terms.

Career Training Student Loans

If you’re getting a certificate for a trade or professional training, like technical school, Sallie Mae’s career training student loans are an option to consider. As with other Sallie Mae loan options, there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.

Loans range from $1,000 to the total cost of attendance. With 100% coverage, you can pay for things like tuition, meals, housing, books, laptops, and travel. Variable rates start at 4.12% APR and fixed rates start at 6.62% APR. Choose a loan term of 5, 10, or 15 years.

MBA Loans

If you’re pursuing a master’s degree in business administration, the MBA loan exists specifically to serve you. It ranges from $1,000 to 100% of the cost of attendance. Variable rates start at 2.12% APR, while fixed rates start at 4.75% APR.

Sallie Mae’s MBA loans come with 48 months of deferment during your internship and a 6-month grace period before you need to start making payments at the beginning of your career. You may also be eligible for 12 interest-only payments after the grace period. The MBA loan is for a term of 15 years.

Medical School Loans

Medical school can be expensive and stressful, which is why Sallie Mae offers flexible repayment options and a loan term of up to 20 years. Loan amounts range from $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance. Variable rates start at 2.12%, while fixed rates start at 4.75%.

You can utilize 48 months of deferment during your residency or fellowship, as well as a 36 month grace period at the start of your medical career. You may also be eligible for 12 interest-only payments after the grace period.

Dental School Loans

Like Sallie Mae’s medical school loans, its dental school loans have terms of up to 20 years, which gives you a more affordable monthly payment and a longer time to pay off the loan. Loans start at $1,000 and go up to 100% of the total cost of attendance. Variable rates start at 2.12% APR and fixed rates start at 4.75% APR.

During your residency and fellowships, you can take advantage of 48 months of deferment. You’ll also get a 12 month grace period at the start of your career. You might be eligible for 12 interest-only payments after the grace period to allow for repayment flexibility.

Medical and Dental Residency Loans

If you’re starting a medical or dental residency or need to relocate for a residency, You can use Sallie Mae’s residency and relocation loans to cover your costs. Medical, podiatry, veterinary, and dental residencies are all accepted.

Loans are available from $1,000 to $30,000. Variable rates range from 2.90% to 8.58% APR, while fixed rates range from 5.93% to 10.19% APR. As with other Sallie Mae loans, there are no prepayment penalties or origination fees.

Law School Student Loans

If you’re in law school, you can get a loan ranging from $1,000 to the total cost of attendance on a 15-year term. Variable rates range from 2.12% to 11.48% APR while fixed rates range from 4.75% to 11.98% APR.

There are no origination fees. You can get 48 months of deferment during your clerkship or fellowship, plus a 9 month grace period at the start of your career. You may be eligible for 12 interest-only payments for repayment flexibility.

Bar Study Loans

If you’re studying for the bar exam, you can get a Sallie Mae loan designed specifically to cover the fees and living costs you incur during this time. Loans range from $1,000 to $15,000 and have a term of 15 years. Variable rates range from 2.90% to 11.56% APR, while fixed rates range from 5.75% to 12.68% APR.

There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You can get a 0.25% point interest rate reduction when you enroll in autopay. You’ll also get a 9-month grace period.

Parent Student Loans

Private parent student loans can be less expensive than federal PLUS loans, which have high-interest rates and disbursement fees. You can borrow a minimum of $1,000, up to the cost of attendance. You can use these loans to pay for your child’s certificate, undergraduate, or graduate degree.

Variable rates start at 3.37% and fixed rates start at 5.49%. There are no origination fees or penalties for prepayment.

Rates and Terms

Rates and terms vary depending on which type of loan you get. However, loan amounts start at a minimum of $1,000 and can go up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Terms range from 5 to 20 years. Variable interest rates start at 2.12% while fixed interest rates start at 3.5%.

While Sallie Mae does not require any application, origination, or prepayment fees, it does require late fees. If you miss a payment, you’ll get a fee of 5% of the missed payment amount, with a maximum fee of $25. There’s also a $20 returned check fee. If you choose to enroll in automatic payments through autopay, you’ll receive a 0.25% reduction in your interest rate.

Sallie Mae offers four repayment options:

  • Principal and interest repayment: This is the standard method, in which you pay down both the principal and interest.
  • Deferred: With this repayment plan, you don’t have to make payments while in school or during the grace period. Career training loans and parent loans are not eligible for a deferred payment plan.
  • Fixed: With a fixed payment plan, you’ll pay $25 per month throughout your schooling. After graduation and the grace period, you begin making monthly payments on the principal and interest. Parent loans are not eligible for a fixed payment plan.
  • Interest: Interest-only repayment plans allow you to pay monthly interest payments while you’re still in school and throughout the grace period.

Application Process and Qualifications

Sallie Mae does not offer prequalification, so you can’t get personalized rates without applying. That means that a hard credit pull is required to find out what rates you’re eligible for, which may lower your credit score by a few points.

Sallie Mae offers loans in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. While each type of loan has different qualifications, you’ll need to meet the below set of criteria:

  • Must be the age of majority (usually at least 18 years old)
  • Must be a permanent resident or U.S. citizen
  • DACA students and foreign residents must apply with a U.S. citizen cosigner
  • Must pass a credit check, or your cosigner must pass a credit check

Sallie Mae does not have a minimum credit score or a minimum GPA. However, it does review your creditworthiness based on your credit history, which includes your credit score and repayment history.

Sallie Mae offers several types of loans and the application process is generally the same regardless of loan type. You’ll complete an application online and provide the following information:

  • Address that you’ve lived at for at least one year
  • Social security number (yours and your cosigner’s, if applicable)
  • School information, including degree, course of study, academic period of enrollment, and year in school
  • Requested loan amount
  • Financial aid and scholarships you plan on receiving
  • Employment information, including company name and income
  • Financial information, including monthly mortgage or rent payments and bank accounts
  • Two personal contacts other than your cosigner

Approval Time

Approval time with Sallie Mae varies. The application itself takes just a few minutes and you can get approval the same day you apply. If Sallie Me requests additional documentation, it can take up to 24 hours for the system to update your loan application, which can affect the approval timeline.

Once your application is approved, the loan disbursement process can take a long time. Sallie Mae will send your information to your school, which will certify the funds before Sallie Mae can issue them. This process can take up to 30 days. Once the school certifies the funds, it gives Sallie Mae a disbursement date to issue the funds.

When Sallie Mae issues the funds, they go directly to the school to cover enrollment costs. If there is any additional money left over, you’ll receive it in the form of a student loan refund from the school. This is on par with the market average, as all lenders are at the mercy of the school for disbursement.

Customer Service

You can contact Sallie Mae’s customer service team by live chat or by phone call. Service is available during the following times:

  • Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. ET
  • Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET
  • Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET

I tested out Sallie Mae’s live chat feature. The chatbot tries to answer your questions, but I found its response options lacking. You can skip the bot by requesting a live agent.

Customer Service

I was connected with a customer service agent within 5 minutes. I asked the agent about the minimum credit scores required for student loans, as well as what the approval timeline looks like.

Customer Service

Customer Service

Customer Service

Customer Service

The agent who helped me was polite and very quick to respond. Although it took a few minutes to be connected, Sallie Mae’s customer service representative was knowledgeable, efficient, and thorough. They answered my questions in full and in a professional manner.

Summary

Sallie Mae offers private student loans that range from $1,000 to the total cost of attendance. It has a large student loan offering, with options for almost any degree or certificate. It also has fairly low rates, lots of deferment options, and flexible repayment plans. Rates start at just 1.14% and you can get a loan term that ranges from 5 to 20 years.

Sallie Mae is accessible for most. There are no origination, application, or prepayment fees. Sallie Mae is able to serve clients that tend to be ignored by other lenders, such as part-time students and non-U.S. citizens.

With that in mind, Sallie Mae offers only private loans. Since federal loans alone qualify for student loan forgiveness programs, you should exhaust your federal loan options before choosing a private lender like Sallie Mae. It also requires that you fully apply to see personalized rates, which requires a hard credit pull.

Despite the drawbacks, Sallie Mae is a reputable company to work with. I found its customer service to be very helpful and knowledgeable. Its offering is extensive and its lack of fees makes it more affordable than some of its competition. If you’ve exhausted your federal loan options, Sallie Mae can likely offer a solid loan with flexible repayment options.

FAQ:

Is it hard to get a Sallie Mae loan?

To get a loan with Sallie Mae, you must meet similar standards to those of other lenders. The company reviews your repayment history and credit score to determine approval. How easy or hard it is to get a Sallie Mae loan will depend on these factors.

Does Sallie Mae have a GPA requirement?

No, Sallie Mae does not have a GPA requirement.

How long does it take for Sallie Mae to approve a loan?

Sallie Mae can approve your loan within 24 hours. However, it can take up to 30 days for your school to certify your loans and give Sallie Mae a disbursement date to issue the funds.

Does Sallie Mae qualify for loan forgiveness?

No. Sallie Mae provides private student loans. Only federal student loans qualify for loan forgiveness.

What credit score does Sallie Mae require?

Sallie Mae does not have a minimum credit score required. It reviews your and your cosigner’s (if applicable) credit history, including repayment history and credit score, to determine your creditworthiness before approving your application.

Ginny Dorn
Written by
Ginny Dorn

Ginny Dorn is a freelance personal finance writer. She specializes in credit card debt, personal loans, and mortgages. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.

Pros:
  • Offers loans for part-time and full-time students
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Loans can cover up to 100% of your school-certified costs
Cons:
  • Does not offer refinance loans
  • Hard credit check required to find out rates
  • Charges late payment fees and returned check fees
Bottom Line

With low rates, minimal fees, and flexible payment options, Sallie Mae could be a good choice for you if you are a part or full-time student who has exhausted federal loan options and needs additional loans. It offers a wide array of specialized options, from undergraduate to law school loans.

Loans range from $1,000 to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Rates start at 1.14% and terms range from 5 to 20 years. If you’re in a situation that makes it difficult to get a loan, like a non-U.S. citizen or part-time student, Sallie Mae may be able to help you out.