Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial
research influence how products appear on a page.
Student Loans

College Ave vs. Sallie Mae Student Loan Comparison

Below, we’re exploring two private lenders that have been helping students pursue higher education for several years: College Ave and Sallie Mae. In this article, we’ll compare the lenders, explore who’s eligible for their student loans, and help you decide which is best.

View Rates

View Rates

Rates (APR) 4.39% – 16.85% 4.50% – 16.70%
Rates (APR) Rates (APR)
4.39% – 16.85% 4.50% – 16.70%
Loan amounts $1,000 – 100% of cost $1,000 – 100% of cost
Loan amounts Loan amounts
$1,000 – 100% of cost $1,000 – 100% of cost
Repayment terms 5 – 15 years 10 – 15 years
Repayment terms Repayment terms
5 – 15 years 10 – 15 years
Repayment plans 4 3
Repayment plans Repayment plans
4 3

About College Ave and Sallie Mae

College Ave was founded in 2014 to help provide private student loan products to students and their families. Along with this support was its commitment to helping students prepare for a brighter future with practical solutions that are simple, clear, and personal. 

It offers undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training loans. It also offers student loan refinancing.

Once a federal lender, Sallie Mae was founded in 1972 to provide student loans. But in 2004, it became a private company, now offering financial services to help students and families save and pay for their goals. 

Sallie Mae offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training loans. It does not currently offer student loan refinancing. 

College Ave vs. Sallie Mae: Everything you need to know

Here is a more detailed look at College Ave and Sallie Mae’s rates, terms, and fees.

College AveSallie Mae
Fixed rates (APR)4.39% – 16.49%4.50% – 15.49
Variable rates (APR)5.59% – 16.856.37% – 16.70
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of cost $1,000 – 100% cost 
Term length5 – 15 years10 – 15 years
FeesLate paymentLate payment
Based on undergraduate student loans

College Ave vs. Sallie Mae student loan terms don’t differ much, but there are some variances that give College Ave an edge:

  • Choice of terms. College Ave borrowers choose their term, while Sallie Mae’s cannot.
  • In-school repayment. College Ave offers four in-school repayment options: principal + interest, interest-only, fixed payment, or deferred. Sallie Mae only offers three: interest-only, fixed payment, or deferred. The ability to make monthly payments toward principal and interest during school is unique to College Ave and can help borrowers save on their overall loan cost.
  • Interest rates. Fixed and variable interest rates depend on the type of loan, but College Ave’s starting rates are slightly lower than Sallie Mae’s. The difference may not seem like much, but when interest—or compounding interest, for that matter—is involved, even just 0.25% can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

One area that Sallie Mae is more beneficial, however, is in its cosigner release policy. Cosigners on Sallie Mae loans can be removed after 12 on-time principal + interest payments are made, or the equivalent of that amount is pre-paid during the repayment period. Borrowers also must meet credit requirements.

Meanwhile, College Ave’s cosigner release policy requires cosigners to stay on the loan until half-way through the repayment term. Meaning, if you have a 10-year term, your cosigner can’t be release until after year five.

Sallie Mae vs. College Ave types of loans

Sallie Mae and College Ave offer most of the same types of loans. The main difference is College Ave offers parent loans and refinance loans, while Sallie Mae does not.

College AveSallie Mae
Undergraduate loansUndergraduate loans
Graduate loans Graduate loans
Health professions loansHealth professions loans
Career loans Career-training student loans
Law school & bar study loansLaw school & bar study loans
MBA loansMBA loans
Medical school & residency loansMedical school & residency loans
Dental school loansDental school & residency loans
Parent loans
Refinance loans

Sallie Mae vs. College Ave eligibility requirements

Borrowers must be 16 or older to apply for a College Ave student loan or the age of majority in their state to apply for a Sallie Mae student loan. That’s 18 in most states. Some states push the age up to 19—and it’s 21 if you live in Mississippi. 

You can apply for a loan from either lender as long as you have a Social Security number or a cosigner who is a citizen or permanent resident. You also must be enrolled at an eligible school to apply.

The application typically takes less time with College Ave than with Sallie Mae—College Ave’s application takes about three minutes to complete. Sallie Mae’s takes less than 10 minutes.

However, you’re more likely to get approved for a Sallie Mae student loan without a cosigner. Ninety-seven percent of undergraduate borrowers are approved by College Ave with a cosigner versus 87% by Sallie Mae.

College Ave vs. Sallie Mae customer reviews

Customer reviews tend to favor College Ave over Sallie Mae on respected review platforms such as Trustpilot, Google, and Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Review sourceCollege AveSallie Mae
Trustpilot4.4/5 (1,091 reviews)1.4/5 (47 reviews)
Google3/5 (128 reviews)1.4/5 (35 reviews)
Better Business Bureau (BBB)3.15/5 (46 reviews)1.08/5 (128 reviews)
Reviews collected on May 16, 2024

Customer reviews reference a pleasant application process and attentive customer service. Negative reviews College Ave receives are addressed with a direct response to customers to contact them for resolution where possible. 

Sallie Mae’s customer reviews, on the other hand, include unaddressed complaints about the lender’s customer service and reluctance to offer assistance for financial hardship or technical difficulties.

Is College Ave or Sallie Mae better?

To help you choose between College Ave vs. Sallie Mae, here are some scenarios that may give you some clarity on which lender is the better option for you:

If you…Consider
Are under the age of 18College Ave
Require a cosignerSallie Mae
Are a parentCollege Ave
Want repayment flexibilityCollege Ave
Want to refinance a student loanCollege Ave

Here’s a closer look at some of those scenarios that can affect your decision.

You’re under 18

Most students are 18 by the time they start college. However, with the age of majority being 19 or 21 in a handful of states, you may be ruled out from being eligible for a student loan with Sallie Mae. If you’re at least 16, you can apply for a student loan with College Ave.

Whether you are 16 or 21, a student loan is a major undertaking, especially if you don’t have much income right now. Speak with your parents/guardians before applying, though. You should always seek their advice and guidance to help you make any decisions. 


You require a cosigner

Both lenders typically require a cosigner for their student loans since most undergraduate students don’t have an established credit history or enough income to prove they can manage a loan alone. 

However, it takes longer for a cosigner to be released from the loan with College Ave. If you can prove that you can manage your student loan independently and would like to relieve your cosigner of the responsibility as quickly as possible, you may be better off with Sallie Mae.

Always be careful about cosigning, though. Ensure you and your cosigner understand the agreement and risk a cosigner commits to. A cosigner must make payments to your loan if you do not.


You’re a parent

If you’re a parent wanting to support your college student, you may want to opt for College Ave vs. Sallie Mae. With a parent loan from College Ave, you’re responsible for paying back the loan instead of your child. 

Sallie Mae doesn’t offer parent loans, but it does offer the Smart Option Student Loan, in which you become your student’s cosigner.


You want repayment flexibility

If the options for repayment terms are important to you—such as being able to pay down on the principal and interest to save the most money or pay off your student loan in less than 10 years—you’ll get more flexibility with College Ave vs. Sallie Mae.


You want to refinance a student loan

If you currently have student loans you’re looking to refinance, or you would like the option of refinancing your student loan with the same lender in the future, then College Ave is the clear choice. As of May 2024, Sallie Mae does not offer student loan refinancing.

You can read more about College Ave’s student loan refinancing offering in our complete review.


College Ave vs. Sallie Mae: Which is better overall?

Overall, we recommend College Ave. Not only are its interest rates lower than Sallie Mae, but this lender offers more flexibility for borrowers. College Ave also has a simpler application process backed by supportive customer service. 

Both lenders are clear about seeking private student loans to supplement other financial assistance. You must explore other options, such as grants, scholarships, interest-free student loans, and federal student loans, before applying for a private student loan with College Ave, Sallie Mae, or any other private lender. 

Also, remember: Private student loans may have advantages, but you will lose out on benefits you’re entitled to with a federal student loan. For example, there is no opportunity for loan forgiveness with private student loans, unlike with federal student loans.

Check out our extensive reviews on College Ave student loans and Sallie Mae student loans if you want to learn more about them.