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Student Loans

Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

Updated Apr 27, 2023   |   8 mins read

Key points:

  • Sallie Mae is one of the largest private student loan companies in the nation, and it offers a broad range of private student loan products.
  • Undergraduates, graduates, and professional students can find a loan with Sallie Mae.
  • Sallie Mae no longer services federal student loans; that service was split off into the company now named Navient.

Sallie Mae logo
on Sallie Mae’s secure website
Editorial Rating

Editorial Rating

What we like:

Short cosigner release term

Fixed APR4.25% – 12.35%
Variable APR1.25% – 11.10%
Loan Amounts$1,000 to 100% of school-certified college costs
Repayment Terms5 – 15 years
See how Sallie Mae’s private student loan product stacks up with other options

The information above is for the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduates.

Sallie Mae began as a government-sponsored organization in 1972. In 2004, the lender became fully privatized, and in 2014, Sallie Mae was split into two distinct companies.

The first is the SLM Corporation, which is Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae is a private student loan originator. The other company formed from the split was the Navient Corporation. Navient is a federal and private student loan servicer.

If you are looking for a private student loan, Sallie Mae is a popular option with competitive products.

In this review:

WATCH: LendEDU reviews Sallie Mae student loans:

Sallie Mae student loans for undergrads & graduates

Sallie Mae offers a wide variety of private student loans. Private student loans are usually the next option after a student has exhausted all other financial aid, including federal student loans, to pay for college.

Here are the Sallie Mae student loans most borrowers will be interested in.

Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate StudentsGraduate Student Loans
Loan amounts$1,000100% of school-certified cost of attendance$1,000100% of school-certified expenses
Term lengths5 – 15 yearsUp to 15 years
Fixed APRs4.74% – 11.85%5.50% – 10.23%
Variable APRs1.25% – 9.44%2.50% – 8.20%
Cosigner releaseAfter 12 on-time paymentsNot disclosed

Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students

The Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students is one of the primary loan products offered by Sallie Mae. Some of its main features include:

  • This undergraduate student loan can be used for bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, as well as and certificate programs at degree-granting institutions
  • There is coverage up to 100% coverage for all school-certified student loan expenses
  • There is no prepayment penalty and no origination fee
  • ​When borrowers enroll to make monthly payments by auto debit, they can qualify to receive a 0.25 interest rate reduction
  • Repayment options include deferred fixed repayment and an interest repayment option
  • ​Cosigner release after 12 months of on-time payments (principal and interest)
  • You might get a decision within 15 minutes of submitting your loan application

Graduate School Loans

Sallie Mae provides private loans for students who are going to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. The Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan can provide complete coverage for all school-certified expenses. There is no maximum amount for all the years of graduate school.

Features of the Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan include:

  • A grace period of 6 months as the borrower is starting their career
  • ​A deferment period of 48 months during an internship or fellowship
  • ​Eligible borrowers may be able to make 12 interest-only monthly payments after the grace period
  • There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties

Loans for med students & medical professionals

Sallie Mae Medical School LoanSallie Mae Dental School LoanSallie Mae Health Professions Graduate Loan
Loan amounts$1,000100% of school-certified expenses$1,000100% of school-certified expenses$1,000100% of school-certified expenses
Term lengthsUp to 20 yearsUp to 20 yearsUp to 15 years
Fixed APRs5.49%9.98%5.50%9.99%5.50% – 10.23%
Variable APRs3.87%9.24%3.87%9.24%3.87% – 9.52%
Grace period36 months12 months6 months
Deferment period48 months48 months48 months

These loans will help students working toward their medical career pay for schooling. The medical and dental school loans are for students still working through school, while the Health Professions Graduate Loan is for students who are in residency.

Loans for business students

Sallie Mae MBA Loans
Loan amounts$1,000100% of school-certified expenses
Term lengthsUp to 15 years
Fixed APRs5.50% – 10.23%
Variable APRs3.75% – 9.40%
Grace period6 months
Deferment period48 months

MBA Loans

The Sallie Mae MBA loan can be used to cover the costs of business school as a borrower is pursuing their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

  • Eligibility is available to U.S. citizens if they are attending a degree-granting school in or out of the U.S., or are enrolled in eligible study abroad programs
  • International students may be eligible for this loan if they’re attending certain schools in the U.S.

Loans for law students

Here are the loans Sallie Mae offers for students working toward law degrees, business degrees, or other nonstandard career certifications.

Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Student LoanSallie Mae Law School LoanSallie Mae Bar Study Loan
Loan amounts$1,000100% of school-certified expenses$1,000100% of school-certified expenses$1,000$15,000
Term lengthsNot disclosedUp to 15 yearsUp to 15 years
Fixed APRs6.62%13.83%5.50%9.99%5.75%12.68%
Variable APRs4.25%11.64%3.87%9.27%4.64%11.56%
Grace periodN/A9 months9 months
Deferment periodN/A48 monthsN/A

Benefits of Sallie Mae Student Loans

There are many benefits to Sallie Mae’s student loans, including the following:

  • A wide range of borrowers may be eligible. Sallie Mae may accept borrowers with a wide range of credit scores and allow for students to add a cosigner to help satisfy the eligibility requirements.
  • International students who are studying in the U.S. may be eligible. Non-U.S. citizens (including DACA students) may be eligible for Sallie Mae’s loans if they add a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner.
  • Easy application process. The application and approval process is efficient and can all be done online with Sallie Mae.
  • Flexible deferment options. Sallie Mae offers multiple deferment options for borrowers including options for grace periods and payment deferments while a borrower is getting their career started.
  • Part-time students may be eligible. Whereas many lenders don’t offer loans to part-time students, Sallie Mae does.
  • Death and disability discharge. If a borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled before paying off the loan, his or her loan balance will be discharged regardless of whether there was a cosigner on the loan or not.
  • Cosigner release. Borrowers may be able to release their cosigner from the loan after 12 on-time principal and interest payments have been made.

Downsides of Sallie Mae Student Loan

Along with the many benefits, there are also some downsides to Sallie Mae’s student loans which are important to consider:

  • Many customer complaints online. With any financial company, and particularly with student loan companies, there are likely to be customer complaints and issues, and Sallie Mae is no exception. Many of these complaints pertain to customer service.
  • No soft credit check for pre-approval. Sallie Mae won’t let potential borrowers find out what their personalized interest rate could be without doing a hard inquiry on your credit report first.
  • Borrowers cannot choose repayment term. Whereas most lenders will allow approved applicants to choose among a number of repayment terms (giving borrowers some control over monthly payment amounts), Sallie Mae simply assigns a term to borrowers.
  • You cannot refinance student loans. At this time, Sallie Mae doesn’t offer any student loan refinancing services. If you have an existing Sallie Mae loan and you’d like to refinance, see our guide to how to refinance Sallie Mae loans. You should also check out our list of the best places to refinance student loans.

Eligibility & application information

Eligibility for Sallie Mae student loans depends on the loan for which you are applying. But, generally, you or your cosigner needs to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is enrolled at least half-time in a relevant program at a qualifying institution.

You can easily begin your application on Sallie Mae’s website, where you’ll supply some basic information about yourself, your financial situation, your school, and the degree you’re pursuing.

What you’ll need to apply

  • Permanent address. Note: If you’ve lived at your permanent address less than one year, you’ll need to provide your previous address.
  • Social Security Numbers of the borrower, cosigner and student, if applicable.
  • School information to include name, enrollment status, degree and course of study.
  • Academic period of enrollment and year in school.
  • Loan amount requested and other financial aid the student expects to receive.
  • Your employment information (company name and gross income).
  • Financial information, including your bank accounts, and your monthly mortgage or rent payments.
  • Name and contact information for two personal contacts (not required for cosigners).

Sallie Mae alternatives

Sallie Mae is one of the most well-known private student loan lenders and is a great choice for students looking for help paying for college. The lender offers loans for a variety of school levels with many benefits and competitive terms.

Before you make a decision, you may want to take a look at some Sallie Mae competitors to see if there may be a better option for you. We also have some more detailed comparisons of Sallie Mae vs. College Ave, Sallie Mae vs. Discover, Sallie Mae vs. Ascent, and Sallie Mae vs. Wells Fargo that you can check out.

For a larger list of alternatives, check out these student loan companies.

Sallie Mae Student Loan Disclosures

See Sallie Mae Disclosures1,2,3 and Important Repayment Disclosure*