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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

5 Lenders to Refinance Sallie Mae Loans With

Sallie Mae started as a government-sponsored enterprise when Congress created it in 1972. It’s helped many realize their higher education goals. But Sallie Mae also has many negative consumer reviews based on dubious practices.

After splitting into two companies in 2014, Sallie Mae now provides private student loans and no longer services federal loans. If you have Sallie Mae loans, you can refinance through private lenders. This may help you lower your interest rate, get better service, or reduce your repayment term.

Does Sallie Mae refinance student loans?

No, Sallie Mae does not offer student loan refinancing to borrowers who have student loans from other lenders. Sallie Mae only issues new private student loans to current college students. 

However, many other lenders are willing to offer student loan refinances. Keep reading because we’ve researched and picked the five best options.

Top 5 lenders to refinance Sallie Mae loans

There’s no shortage of lenders willing to refinance Sallie Mae loans. You can use just about any lender you want if it approves you. 

We found that these lenders offer the best rates and features. You can click the lender’s name in the table to find out why we think it’s a solid alternative to Sallie Mae.

LenderLow rate (APR)Loan amountsLoan terms (years)
Credible4.75%$5,000 – total amount5 – 25
ELFI5.48%$10,000 – $250,0005 – 20 
Earnest5.19%$5,000 – $500,0005 – 20
SoFi3.99%$5,000 – total amount5 – 20 
RISLA6.34%$7,500 – $250,0005 – 15


Compare multiple lenders from one location

  • Get $200 if you don’t find your best rate
  • 100% free
  • No impact on your credit score

Credible is an online marketplace that lets student loan borrowers compare real offers from lenders with one application. There are no costs to see offers and no impact on your credit.

The online form takes just two minutes to complete, and Credible won’t share your information with lenders until you choose to proceed with an offer. The lenders in Credible’s marketplace offer fixed or variable interest rates, no origination fees, and multiple repayment terms.


Assigns a Student Loan Advisor to assist you throughout the process

  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 from customers on Trustpilot
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Prequalify and see personalized savings with no impact on your credit

ELFI is another terrific option to refinance Sallie Mae loans. This lender offers competitive rates, no fees, and the option to refinance the total balance of your Sallie Mae loans.

Like other lenders on this list, you can check your estimated refinance rate with ELFI without the hard credit check. Instead of Sallie Mae’s less-than-stellar customer service, ELFI assigns you a student loan advisor to walk through the process and answer any questions you have.


Skip one payment once per year if needed

  • Customize your new loan and choose your repayment term
  • Remove a cosigner
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

Navient acquired Earnest in 2017, but it remains a full-service student loan company that offers student loan refinancing. Navient was formed in 2014 when Sallie Mae split, but you can still refinance Sallie Mae loans with Earnest.

Unlike Sallie Mae, Earnest gives you an estimate of your rates and terms without a hard credit check, which will not affect your credit score. Earnest’s interest rates are better than those on Sallie Mae’s Smart Option student loan. Earnest’s fixed APR on those loans starts at 5.19%. 

Refinancing Sallie Mae loans with Earnest also comes with perks, including the options to:

  • Skip a payment once a year.
  • Defer your loan payments.
  • Choose between biweekly and monthly automatic payments.

A significant difference between Earnest and Sallie Mae relates to their customer service teams. Earnest keeps its customer service in-house, likely due to its excellent Trustpilot reviews.


Access to member benefits

  • SoFi members gain access to career coaching, financial advice, and more
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

SoFi does a bit of everything: banking, credit cards, student loans, and even insurance.  Since it’s a large lender, SoFi can offer extra benefits you won’t find elsewhere. 

It has one of the most comprehensive member benefits programs among student loan lenders, with perks that include: 

  • Rewards
  • Career coaching
  • Financial planning
  • Unemployment protection program

Just like the others, you can prequalify for a SoFi student loan refinance in two minutes. You’ll also enjoy the lack of fees. SoFi offers repayment assistance programs and cosigner release programs as extra aid to student borrowers. 


Powered by Credible

Unique hardship protections

  • Borrowers still in school can refinance and defer repayment
  • Short-term assistance in the form of income-based repayment
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

RISLA, or Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, is a nonprofit that aims to assist students and families by offering affordable education solutions.

Most lenders have a requirement that borrowers must have graduated to refinance, but RISLA doesn’t. Students still in school can refinance and select the deferred option, so payments don’t begin until the borrower leaves school.

Should you refinance Sallie Mae student loans?

Refinancing any student loan isn’t a black-and-white situation. You’ll need to weigh several factors first. Keep reading for more details about each situation in the table below.

Consider refinancing if Reconsider if
You can qualify for a lower rate or payment❌ You want to remove a cosigner but can’t qualify on your own
✅ You want to remove a cosigner and can qualify on your own❌ Sallie Mae offers better payment assistance options
✅ You’ve run out of payment assistance options❌ Your rate or payment would be higher
✅ You want to qualify for better benefits❌ You plan to apply for other credit soon
✅ You’re looking for better customer service❌ A lower rate means moving from a fixed to a variable rate

When it makes sense to refinance Sallie Mae student loans

You might want to refinance Sallie Mae loans for several reasons. Here are five scenarios where ditching Sallie Mae for another lender may be sensible.

You can qualify for a lower rate or payment

One of the most popular reasons to refinance with any lender is to get lower rates or a lower payment. This can help your student loan fit within your monthly budget and cash flow patterns. You can check your potential loan options with many lenders anytime with no obligation. 

You want to remove a cosigner and can qualify on your own

Sallie Mae has a generous cosigner release policy, but not everyone is eligible. You may have stellar qualifications, but Sallie Mae won’t let you apply for cosigner release if you didn’t finish your degree. You may be able to remove your cosigner by refinancing with another lender

You’ve run out of payment assistance options

Check with Sallie Mae if you’re having trouble making your payments. Some of its assistance options, such as deferment, are limited in scope. If you’re facing long-term problems and Sallie Mae can’t help, it may be time to move to another lender who can. 

You want to qualify for better benefits

Some student loan lenders offer special programs beyond what Sallie Mae provides. SoFi offers plenty of borrower benefits, and Earnest allows you to skip a payment every year.

You’re looking for better customer service

Sallie Mae has a poor reputation for customer service, with over 2,000 official complaints lodged against the company’s student loan division since 2015. If you’ve been burned by Sallie Mae, switching lenders can help give you peace of mind. 

When it might not make sense to refinance Sallie Mae student loans

Before you get rid of Sallie Mae, consider whether any of these scenarios apply to you:

You want to remove a cosigner but can’t qualify on your own

Sallie Mae allows you to apply for cosigner release in as little as one year after you’ve been making full payments—much faster than many other lenders. If removing your cosigner is your priority, it may be better to stick it out and focus on building credit for now. 

Sallie Mae offers better payment assistance options

Sallie Mae provides a “graduated repayment” program: Rather than restarting full payments in six months like most private student loan lenders, you get a full year of interest-only payments. 

Your rate or payment would be higher

In high-interest-rate environments, it may be tough to refinance your student loans for a lower rate than you have with Sallie Mae. 

You’ll be applying for other credit soon

It’s best to hold off on applying for new credit (including student loan refinancing) if you have big plans to apply for other credit soon, such as a loan for a home or a car to get to work.

A lower rate means moving from a fixed to a variable rate 

If you’re considering refinancing to a loan with a variable interest rate because the initial rate is lower, you risk the rate (and your payments) increasing over time. Depending on economic conditions, you could pay more than if you had kept your original loan.

Refinance Sallie Mae loans vs. consolidate 

You should understand the significant differences between consolidating and refinancing your loans if you’re trying to change your Sallie Mae student loans.


Consolidation can simplify your monthly payments between multiple loans by combining everything into one payment. You’ll often see this with federal loans via a Direct Consolidation Loan from the Department of Education. But Sallie Mae loans are private and aren’t eligible for a Direct Consolidation Loan.

You can consolidate private student loans through a private lender, but the process is the same as refinancing. 


Refinancing student loans is often confused with consolidation, and the two are interchangeable when referring to private student loans.

Regarding federal loans, the two are similar, but refinancing has a different purpose. The goal of refinancing isn’t just to combine all your debt into one big loan. It’s to help borrowers do one or all of the following:

  • Lower interest rates
  • Change repayment terms for a lower monthly payment
  • Change or remove the cosigner

You can’t refinance Sallie Mae loans with Sallie Mae because the company doesn’t refinance its own loans (or any other student loans, for that matter)

But you can choose from various private lenders to get better terms on your student loan. 


If you extend your term to a longer time frame than you have on your current loan, you’ll pay more in interest over time, even if your rate is lower.

Can you refinance your Sallie Mae loans?

You can refinance your student loans anytime, including those from Sallie Mae. You’ll need to be approved for a new student refinance loan first, and every lender is different. In general, here’s what most lenders look for:

  • Credit score: You’ll need a credit score of 650 or higher to get approved with most lenders; the higher your credit score, the better your chances of getting the best rate.
  • Credit history: Many lenders won’t approve you if your credit report shows a recent history of past-due payments, bankruptcies, or other negative marks.
  • Loan amount: Typically $5,000 or more, but this varies by lender. 
  • Income: You’ll need to show proof of income to your lender’s satisfaction, especially in relation to your monthly debt payments. Having a stable, consistent job can help. 
  • Degree: Most lenders want to see that you’ve completed your degree, but some lenders will refinance education debt for borrowers who dropped out before graduating. 
  • Residency: You’ll need to live in a state where the lender is licensed. Most lenders only offer loans to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. 

How to refinance Sallie Mae loans

If you’re interested in refinancing your Sallie Mae student loans with another lender, you’ll follow the same general set of steps. This may vary by lender, but the big picture looks like this:

  1. Get ready to apply

Knowing where you stand can help you narrow down your list of potential lenders to the ones you’re most likely to qualify with. 

Here’s a checklist of what to verify before you start shopping:

  • Credit score
  • Current student loan payoff amount
  • Credit report (check for any errors, and dispute any you find)
  • How much you can afford for a monthly payment
  • Save copies of current financial statements, including recent tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, and student loan statements
  1. Check your rate with different lenders

Most lenders allow you to check your rate and potential loan options on their website without completing a full application. This doesn’t hurt your credit as long as the lender does a soft credit check. Use this information to help you choose the best lender to apply with.

  1. Complete a full application

Submit a full application for a student loan with your chosen lender. Stay in touch so you can respond if the lender needs more information. You’ll often get an instant decision, but it may require more time if the lender needs to review your application manually.

  1. Get a decision

Once you’re approved for the loan, the lender will send you a final loan agreement to sign. After you sign the document, it’s official: You have a new lender, which will pay off your old Sallie Mae student loans. 

  1. Continue making payments on your Sallie Mae loans

Switching lenders can take time. Until you hear otherwise, it’s essential to keep paying your student loans with Sallie Mae until you receive confirmation that your new lender has paid off your old Sallie Mae loans. You can then set up autopay for your new loans.