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Sallie Mae is one of the largest student loan lenders in the United States. It used to be a federal loan servicer, so loans serviced by Sallie Mae were eligible for both consolidation with the Department of Education and refinancing with private lenders.
However, Sallie Mae split into two companies in 2014. One of those companies, SLM Corporation, is still referred to as Sallie Mae, and it provides private loans. The other is Navient Corporation and it services federal student loans.
While you can no longer use Federal Direct Loan Consolidation to consolidate Sallie Mae loans, you can refinance them with other lenders to lower your interest rate, helping you save money.
This guide will go over the best lenders to refinance Sallie Mae loans with and the implications of doing so.
In this guide:
- 3 Lenders for Refinancing Sallie Mae Loans
- Refinancing Sallie Mae Loans vs. Consolidating Them
- Considerations Before Refinancing
3 Lenders to Refinance Sallie Mae Loans With
Here are some great companies you can refinance your Sallie Mae loans with.
Editor’s Choice: #1 Best Overall Refinance Lender
Earnest was acquired by Navient in 2017 but remains a full-service student loan company offering student loan refinancing.
With low rates, a wide range of repayment terms, and great flexibility in repayment, Earnest ranks as our #1 best student loan refinance lender. If you refinance your Sallie Mae loans with Earnest, you will have the option to skip a payment once a year, defer your loan payments for a number of reasons, and make biweekly automatic payments.
Here’s what you need to know about Earnest’s refinance loans:
- Fixed Rates (APR): 3.47% – 7.72%
- Variable Rates (APR): 2.41% – 6.99%
- Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
- Loan Amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance
ELFI is another great option for refinancing Sallie Mae loans. The lender offers competitive rates, no fees, and will refinance the total balance of your Sallie Mae loans.
- Fixed Rates (APR): 3.30% – 6.69%
- Variable Rates (APR): 2.39% – 6.01%
- Loan Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
- Loan Amounts: $15,000 – Total outstanding loan balance
3) Citizens Bank
If you prefer working with a large bank with brick-and-motor locations, then Citizens Bank is one of the best options for refinancing Sallie Mae loans. The lender offers competitive rates, a variety of repayment terms, and an extra discount of 0.25% for having a bank account with them (on top of a 0.25% autopay discount).
- Fixed Rates (APR): 3.20% – 8.63%
- Variable Rates (APR): 2.49% – 8.38%
- Loan Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
- Loan Amounts: $10,000 – $500,000
Refinancing Sallie Mae Loans vs. Consolidating Them
There are some big differences between consolidating and refinancing your loans that you need to understand if you are trying to make changes to your current Sallie Mae student loans.
Federal student loan consolidation is only available for federal loans, such as those serviced by Navient, and it’s done through a Direct Consolidation Loan from the Department of Education.
The new loan isn’t cheaper, though, because your new interest rate will be a weighted average of rates on the loans you consolidated. Either way, Sallie Mae loans aren’t eligible for this type of consolidation.
However, if you want to consolidate or simplify your private Sallie Mae loans, you can still accomplish this by refinancing them.
Refinancing student loans is similar in the sense that you take out one new loan to repay multiple old loans, although it is different from federal consolidation in important ways.
The goal of refinancing isn’t just to combine all existing debt into one big loan. Instead, most people refinance to lower their interest rates, helping them save over the life of the loan.
If you have a better credit score than you originally did when you took out Sallie Mae loans, you are likely to be eligible for a lower rate through refinancing with another lender.
You can also change your repayment term to get a monthly payment that better fits your budget. Just note that if you extend your term to a much longer time than what you have remaining on your existing loan, you may pay more in total even if you receive a lower rate.
You cannot refinance Sallie Mae loans with Sallie Mae, as the company doesn’t refinance its own loans (or any other student loans, for that matter).
>> Read More: Student Loan Consolidation vs. Refinancing
Considerations Before Refinancing Sallie Mae Loans
If you are thinking about refinancing your Sallie Mae loans, here are a few key things to think about before you move forward.
Are You Trying to Lower Your Rate?
If your goal is to pay less in interest, refinancing will be effective only if you can qualify for a new loan at a lower rate. If your credit hasn’t improved much since you took out your original Sallie Mae loan, this may not be possible. Always check your credit report to assess how likely it is that you’ll qualify for a low-rate refinance loan.
You should also consider getting preliminary rate quotes from a few refinancing lenders before you begin the official application process. This will give you an idea of the rates you’ll receive so you can decide if going forward with refinancing is worth it.
You can see our picks for the best student loan refinance lenders here.
Are You Trying to Lower Your Monthly Payment?
If your goal is to reduce your monthly payment because you can’t afford your current one, this may be possible even if you can’t qualify for a loan at a lower rate.
You just need to be able to qualify for a refinance loan with an extended loan repayment term. Keep in mind, though, that this could lead to higher costs in the long-run due to paying interest for a longer period of time.
Ideally, you would refinance to both a lower rate and a lower monthly payment so your total loan cost wouldn’t drastically go up as it would if you refinanced to a higher rate and longer repayment term.
It’s a good idea to try to forecast how your refinance loan will affect your long-term costs. Our student loan refinance calculator can help you run the numbers to see how a change in loan rates or a change in your loan repayment options could affect your costs.
Do You Still Need Your Cosigner?
If you took out your original loan with a cosigner because you couldn’t qualify on your own, refinancing may be an excellent opportunity to release that cosigner from their obligation to your student loan debt.
That said, chances are good that your cosigner still has a better credit score than you do. If that’s the case—and if your lender of choice accepts cosigners—keeping your cosigner on the refinanced loan may help you qualify for a lower interest rate.
Ready to refinance? Check out our top-rated lender Earnest
3.21% – 8.77%
5 – 20 years
$5,000 – $500,000
Author: Christy Rakoczy