Sallie Mae started out as a government-sponsored enterprise tasked with supporting the federal student loan program.
Over the years, however, Sallie Mae moved toward complete privatization, reaching that goal in 2004. Today, Sallie Mae offers banking services and private student loans.
Sallie Mae review: private student loans
If your federal student aid and scholarships aren’t enough to cover your costs, it can make sense to consider private student loans. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a Sallie Mae private student loan.
Pros and cons of a Sallie Mae student loan
When you get a Sallie Mae loan, you get access to flexible repayment options — a rarity in the world of private student lending. You can further customize your loans by choosing between variable and fixed interest rates.
Sallie Mae loans also come with many borrower perks, including an interest rate reduction for automatic payments and no origination fees. You could even get access to free online tutoring and credit score information to track your financial health.
However, you might be subject to a higher interest rate with a private student loan through Sallie Mae, depending on your credit situation. As with many private student lenders, your credit score matters — a low score could mean higher rates.
You also lose out on federal protections when you opt for a private loan. While Sallie Mae does offer flexible repayment plans, they’re not the same as income-driven repayment options offered with federal student debt. Plus, you won’t be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness programs when you work with a private lender.
Who should get a Sallie Mae student loan
In most cases, students are better off looking for grants, scholarships, and federal loans to fund school. Turning to private student loans often doesn’t make sense until all other options are exhausted.
A Sallie Mae private student loan is likely best for those who are unable to pay for college using federal programs.
Sallie Mae student loan products
Sallie Mae offers nearly a dozen private educational loan products. These include:
- Undergraduate student loans: These loans are designed for students working toward a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. You can also get a loan to earn a certificate at a degree-granting school.
- Graduate student loans: Use graduate student loans to pursue master’s, doctorate, and law degrees.
- MBA student loans: If you’re pursuing an MBA, Sallie Mae offers loans for this purpose.
- Health professions graduate loans: These private student loans are designed for those going into pharmacy, nursing, and other graduate-level medical degrees.
- Dental and medical school loans: If you plan to attend dental or medical school, Sallie Mae offers private student loans for these purposes. You can also use these types of loans for veterinary degrees.
- Residency loans: Designed for medical and dental residency costs, this loan could cover board exams, interview travel, and moving costs associated with changing locations for your residency.
- Bar study loans: Looking for help as you deal with the costs of studying for the bar exam? This type of loan covers living expenses and other fees associated with your study.
- Career-training student loans: If you need professional or technical training but attend a non-degree-granting program, opt for this type of loan.
- Parent loans: Parents can help their children pay for undergraduate and graduate programs with these loans.
- K-12 student loans: This type of loan is aimed at parents who want to pay to send their children to private school.
Sallie Mae repayment options
No Sallie Mae review would be complete with exploring their flexible repayment options. Sallie Mae offers three repayment plans for private student loans:
- Deferred repayment: With this option, you make no scheduled loan payments at all while you attend school. Plus, you have a six-month grace period after graduation.
- Fixed repayment: This plan helps you cut down on accruing interest. You pay $25 a month toward your loans while you’re in school and during the grace period. Once the grace period is over, you start making full payments on the principal and interest.
- Interest repayment: Under this option, you pay off all accrued interest each month while you’re in school and during your grace period. You’ll start making principal payments in addition to interest payments when your grace period ends. With this plan, you are eligible to have a 1% interest rate reduction, lowering the overall cost of your loan.
Deferment and forbearance
If you decide to go back to school or start a qualified residency program, you can ask for a temporary deferment from Sallie Mae. If approved, your student loans will revert back to the payment option you originally chose during the time your loans are deferred. You can defer your loans for a maximum of four years.
A Sallie Mae private student loan also comes with a financial hardship option. If you have trouble affording your loan, you can apply for forbearance and temporarily pause your payments until you get back on your feet.
You might be approved to pause payments in three-month increments — up to 12 months for the life of the loan.
To qualify, you must make a payment of $50 for each loan, up to $150 per account. Interest will continue to accrue during this time, and if there are loan disbursements scheduled during the forbearance period, they will be canceled.
Though you may need a cosigner to qualify for a Sallie Mae loan, you might be eligible for a cosigner release later on. To qualify, you must be current on all Sallie Mae-serviced loans for the previous 12 months. Plus, you can’t be in deferment or forbearance in the year prior to the cosigner release.
Sallie Mae requires you to show that you can take on the payment responsibilities, so you’ll need to provide proof of income and pass a credit review.
Using Sallie Mae online
Sallie Mae’s website is easy to navigate and you can apply for a loan right from the homepage. Once you start the application, you get a list of eligible private student loans to choose from.
Select which loan to apply for and you’ll be taken to an application, where you’ll fill in standard loan information. You can start your loan application and then return to it later if you need more time to round up required documentation.
The information you’ll need for your application includes:
- Citizenship status
- Social Security number
- School information (name, enrollment status, and course of study)
- Loan amount
- Employment information
- Financial information (bank account and monthly housing payment)
- Information for two personal contacts
If you apply with a cosigner, the same information is needed for them as well.
Sallie Mae interest rates and fees
The interest rate you’re offered depends on a variety of factors:
- Type of loan
- Variable or fixed interest rate
- Your credit rating (or your cosigner’s)
In general, you can expect to pay between 4.62% and 11.85% APR on your loans. If you sign up for automatic payments, you can get a reduction of 0.25%.
Sallie Mae doesn’t charge origination fees, and there are no prepayment penalties.
Sallie Mae student loan eligibility requirements
As with many private student loans, you must to go through a credit check and meet credit requirements before you’re approved. If your credit score isn’t high enough for you to qualify on your own, you might need to add a cosigner to your application.
You also need to borrow at least $1,000 to qualify for a Sallie Mae student loan. Sallie Mae offers loans for up to 100 percent of the school-certified cost of attendance.
Sallie Mae contact info and customer service
If you have questions that weren’t answered in this Sallie Mae review, you can find answers on Sallie Mae’s FAQ page.
If you’d prefer to get in touch with a customer service rep, visit the contact page. You can find customer service links that provide specific information about applying for a loan or checking a loan in progress.
You can also reach Sallie Mae by phone at 855-756-5626. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST and Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.25% – 13.25%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 12.78%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.62% – 11.47%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.38% – 13.38%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.48% – 12.35%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|