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

Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Best for Cosigners

4.8 /5
LendEDU Rating
Private Student Loans
  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • Lower interest rates when you choose an in-school repayment plan
  • Cosigner release after 12 on-time principal and interest payments
  • No prepayment penalties or origination fees
  • No minimum enrollment requirements
  • Doesn’t offer a soft credit check to check your eligibility
  • The shortest repayment term is 10 years
Rates (APR)4.50% – 16.70%
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of certified costs
Repayment terms10 – 15 years

Sallie Mae has been helping students pay for college for over 40 years. Once a government program, it’s now a private company focused on making higher education possible. 

Sallie Mae offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training programs. We’ll look at its terms, the application process, and borrowers’ experience.

Our take on Sallie Mae’s private student loans

Why it’s the best for cosigners

One of the standout features of Sallie Mae’s undergraduate student loans is its consideration for cosigners. While a cosigner can improve your chances of approval and might even secure you a lower interest rate, that individual is taking on risk as they will be responsible for repayment if you don’t make your scheduled payments.

With Sallie Mae, cosigners can be released from the loan after the borrower makes 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments—covering both principal and interest. This removes the risk from the cosigner.

Sallie Mae cosigner repayment journey

Rates, borrowing limits, and fees

Sallie Mae’s private student loans come with competitive interest rates and will cover all of your school-certified attendance costs.

Type of loanRates (APR)Loan amountsFees
Undergraduate4.50% – 16.70%$1,000 – 100% of costsLate payment
Graduate5.25% – 15.97%$1,000 – 100% of costsLate payment
Career-training4.50%16.34%$1,000 – 100% of costsLate payment

What are the eligibility requirements?

To qualify for a private student loan from Sallie Mae, the applicant must meet a range of requirements, which include citizenship status, state of residence, and minimum age. 

Sallie Mae advised that in 2022, students were three times more likely to be approved for a student loan when applying with a cosigner, and 87% of its undergraduate loans had a cosigner.

CitizenshipU.S. citizen or permanent resident or international student with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
State of residenceAll 50 states and D.C.
Minimum ageAge of majority in the borrower’s state of residence
SchoolParticipating degree-granting schools
Enrollment statusFull-time, half-time, or less than half-time
Credit scoreNot disclosed
IncomeNot disclosed

Follow the flow chart below to see whether you might be eligible. (Remember: Applicants must also meet Sallie Mae’s credit and income requirements, which it doesn’t disclose.)

Sallie Mae eligibility

How does repayment work?

Repayment optionsIn-school (interest-only or $25 flat) or deferred
Repayment terms10 – 15 years
Grace period6 months
Cosigner releaseAfter 12 months of consecutive payments

Here’s how each of the repayment options offered by Sallie Mae work:

  • Deferred: Make no payments until after graduation.
  • Fixed $25 payment: Make small, manageable payments while in school.
  • Interest-only payments: Pay the interest that accumulates each month while in school.

The following repayment example can demonstrate how costs vary based on your repayment plan. This example assumes a $40,000 student loan, 5% APR, and a 10-year term.

Repayment optionBalance after graduationMonthly paymentTotal loan cost
$25 fixed per month$46,000$511$61,320

Please note: These numbers are approximations and may vary due to the specifics of the loan and how interest is calculated.

Here’s what in-school payments might look like each year depending on your selected plan for the loan described above:

YearBorrowed amountInterest-onlyDeferred$25 fixed

Sallie Mae determines the repayment term for borrowers, but allows them to choose between an in-school repayment plan or deferred payments.

It offers several repayment assistance programs, including the following:

  • In-school payment assistance: Postpone your payments while in school; can help you avoid delinquency if you’re struggling.
  • Graduated repayment period: Request to make interest-only payments for 12 months after you leave school.
  • Forbearance: Postpone your payments if you’re having trouble; can help you avoid delinquency and default.
  • Options for delinquent customers include a temporary rate reduction, temporary term and rate modification, payment extension, and reduced payment plan.

These programs can help borrowers avoid delinquency and default. But remember, prolonging the repayment period or pausing payments can increase the overall cost of the loan due to accrued interest.

How can Sallie Mae improve its private student loans?

Sallie Mae offers several appealing features with its student loans, but it could improve in certain areas. 

Where it falls short, we’ve recommended alternatives to consider. Here’s a rundown of Sallie Mae’s drawbacks and alternative lenders:

Sallie Mae drawbackSuggested lender(s)
No prequalificationAscent (checks your eligibility with a soft credit check)
Can’t choose your repayment termCollege Ave, Earnest, Ascent (allow borrowers to choose their term length)
Mixed customer service reviewsEarnest (in-house customer service with high Trustpilot score)
Charges late payment feesEarnest (no late fees)

How do Sallie Mae private student loans compare to other lenders?

Comparing Sallie Mae’s private student loans with other student loan companies can offer a clearer view of its standing in the market. Here’s how it stacks up against three competitors—College Ave, Ascent, and Earnest—for undergraduate student loans:

Sallie MaeCollege AveEarnest
Our rating4.854.7
Rates (APR)4.50% – 16.70%4.07% – 16.69%4.11%16.20%
Loan amount$1,000 – 100% of costs$1,000 – 100% of costs$1,000 – 100% of costs
Repayment terms10 – 15 years5, 8, 10, or 15 years5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Grace period6 months6 months9 months
View ratesView ratesView rates

Read our resource if you’re interested in refinancing your Sallie Mae student loan.

Is Sallie Mae a reputable lender?

SourceCustomer ratingNumber of reviews
Better Business Bureau1.08 out of 5133
Trustpilot1.4 out of 539

Ratings collected on April 5, 2024.

As you can see in the table, customer reviews of Sallie Mae reveal concerning trends. On the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot platforms, the ratings are notably low, indicating customer dissatisfaction.

Despite being accredited by the BBB since 2015 and holding an A+ score for its business practices, Sallie Mae has struggled with customer service according to public reviews. 

Common threads in the reviews are reports of harassing phone calls, difficulty getting forbearance when requested, and issues with customer service representatives.

Does Sallie Mae have a customer service team?

Sallie Mae is one of a few lenders that services its student loans internally. This means it maintains direct communication with borrowers from disbursement to repayment.

You can reach out to Sallie Mae’s customer service team through various channels:

  • Chat with an agent: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.
  • Phone: Call 855-756-5626 Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • General correspondence: Send mail to Sallie Mae, P.O. Box 3319, Wilmington, DE 19804-4319.

How to apply for a Sallie Mae student loan

To apply for a Sallie Mae student loan, follow these steps:

1. Gather necessary information

Be ready with your:

  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • School information (including enrollment status, degree, and course of study) 

If you’ve lived at your address for less than a year, you’ll need to provide your previous address.

Source: Sallie Mae
Source: Sallie Mae

2. Prepare financial documents

Have information on hand about: 

  • The academic period of enrollment and year in school
  • Your requested loan amount
  • Expected financial aid and scholarships
  • Employment information
  • Financial details including bank accounts
  • Monthly mortgage or rent payments
  • Information for two personal contacts (other than your cosigner)

3. Submit your application

Submit your application with the gathered information. You and your cosigner can complete it together, or one person can invite the other using an access code.

4. Wait for credit review

After submission, Sallie Mae reviews your credit. In most cases, a credit result is provided when you submit the application, but the lender might request additional information or documentation.

5. Choose loan terms

If approved, select your interest rate type and in-school repayment option.

6. Accept loan terms and sign

Accept the terms of the loan and sign it electronically.

7. Wait for school certification

Sallie Mae will then ask your school to certify your eligibility, which includes enrollment verification and loan amount. Once it certifies your eligibility, Sallie Mae will disburse the funds to your school.

What if I’m denied a student loan from Sallie Mae?

If Sallie Mae denies your student loan application, it’s not the end of the road. You can consider reapplying, especially if you first applied without a cosigner. A cosigner might improve your chances of approval. 

Sallie Mae should provide reasons for the denial, giving you a chance to address any issues before you reapply. For example, if the issue is with your credit score, you can take the time to secure a cosigner or take steps to improve your score.

If you’re still unable to secure a loan from Sallie Mae, alternatives are available. Check out our resource on the best private student loans

How we rated Sallie Mae student loans

We compared Sallie Mae to 18 student loan lenders offering undergraduate, graduate, and career-training student loans. Its editorial rating for each student loan reflects how it compared to similar products.

We considered factors such as rates, repayment terms, fees, unique benefits, and more. In the end, Sallie Mae was the best for borrowers with cosigners.

Sallie Mae FAQ

Does Sallie Mae offer private or federal student loans?

Sallie Mae specializes in private student loans. It doesn’t offer federal student loans.

Does applying with Sallie Mae hurt my credit?

Applying for a student loan with Sallie Mae will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. While this might lower your credit score by a few points, the impact is often minimal and short-lived.

Does Sallie Mae require a cosigner?

Sallie Mae does not always require a cosigner, but having one can increase your chances of approval. Sallie Mae recommends a cosigner if you have a limited credit history or a low credit score.

Does Sallie Mae allow cosigners to be released?

Yes, Sallie Mae offers a cosigner release after the primary borrower has made 12 on-time payments and meets other eligibility requirements.

What can Sallie Mae student loans be used for?

You can use funds from Sallie Mae student loans for a variety of school-related expenses, including: 

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Books
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Travel
  • Personal school expenses (such as a laptop)

How long does it take to receive funds from Sallie Mae?

The time it takes to get funds from Sallie Mae can vary. After loan approval and acceptance, Sallie Mae will ask your school to certify your eligibility, including enrollment verification and loan amount. Once your school certifies the loan, the funds are disbursed to the school.

Can Sallie Mae student loans be forgiven?

Sallie Mae’s private student loans do not have a built-in loan forgiveness program like federal loans. However, in cases of permanent disability or death, Sallie Mae may forgive the loan.

Recap of our Sallie Mae student loans review

Student loanBest forOur rating
Private student loanCosigners4.8 out of 5