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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

5 Lenders to Refinance Sallie Mae Loans With

Updated May 11, 2023   |   11 mins read

Our top choice for refinancing is College Ave. It charges no application fee, and the terms are flexible, with 11 different repayment options.

Top 5 lenders to refinance Sallie Mae loans

Compare your student loan refinancing options.

LenderRates (APR)Loan amountsRepayment terms
College Ave3.69% – 8.99%$5,000$300,0005 – 15 years
Earnest4.14% – 8.99%$5,000$500,0005 – 20 years
SoFi2.25% – 7.13%$5,000+5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Laurel Road3.74% – 6.65%$5,000+5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
ELFI3.99% – 7.64%$10,000+5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

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 a growing pile of 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.

It’s one of the largest student loan lenders in the United States, but you don’t have to stick with Sallie Mae for the remainder of your loan if you don’t want to. We researched the top five lenders to refinance Sallie Mae loans so you know what to expect from them. 

In this guide:

When it makes sense to refinance Sallie Mae student loans

You might want to refinance Sallie Mae loans for several reasons. But refinancing isn’t a solution for every situation. 

The instances where it makes sense include the following:

  • You qualify for a lower interest rate through another private lender
  • Removing a cosigner from your student loan
  • You need a more affordable payment due to financial hardship
  • You want a better customer service experience
  • You want to reduce or eliminate fees that don’t outweigh the interest savings
  • You want to shorten your student loan repayment term to pay off your loans faster
  • You want to lengthen your repayment term to lower your monthly payment

When you consider refinancing your student loans, it’s important to know the other aspects of your finances. Ensure your credit is good and you have sufficient income to afford the new loan payments.

With a higher credit score and a healthy income, you’ll qualify for better interest rates, higher loan amounts, and better repayment terms. It may be wise to improve your credit score as much as possible before applying. If you have bad credit, you may be able to get better terms by getting a cosigner for the refinance loan. 

If you’re considering leaving Sallie Mae, note you could be missing out on programs it offers to student loan borrowers. Before you get rid of Sallie Mae, make sure you don’t need to use these benefits first:

  • Postponed payments
  • Cosigner release
  • Temporary payment reduction

If you’re paying down your student loans but can’t meet the full payment amount, Sallie Mae offers options such as payment postponement, which defers your payments for up to 12 months when you return to school or enroll in an approved internship, residency, military, or fellowship. 

Borrowers with the Smart Option Student Loan from Sallie Mae might be eligible for temporary payment reduction through the Graduated Repayment Period benefit. This lets you make interest-only payments on your student loan for one year after your grace period ends.

Another benefit is Sallie Mae’s cosigner release option. With 12 months of on-time payments, borrowers can apply to remove their cosigner and take full responsibility for the loan. So if you’re planning to refinance to remove your cosigner, you might not want to apply for a new loan.

Find out more about each of these five companies you can refinance your Sallie Mae loans with below.

Compare the top student loan refinance companies

College Ave

  • Refinance with a variable or fixed rate
  • No application or origination fees
  • Choose from 11 repayment terms

College Ave is a lender that specializes in student loans. With College Ave, you’ll find lower interest rates than Sallie Mae, no application fees, no origination fees, and flexible terms. 

It offers fixed-rate and variable-rate options. It can also refinance federal and private student loans. 

Let’s take a look at the details:

  • Fixed rates with autopay: 4.99%% – 8.99%% APR
  • Variable rates with autopay: 4.44% – 8.99% APR
  • Loan terms: 5 – 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $150,000. (Up to $300,000 for medical, dental, pharmacy, or veterinary doctorate degrees.)


  • Pick your payment and loan term
  • Skip one payment per year, if needed
  • 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 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 is between 4.50% and 14.83%, depending on creditworthiness. 

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 major 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 (4.7 out of 5 as of January 2023).

If you’re considering refinancing with Earnest, you’ll want to see how the numbers line up too.

  • Fixed rates with autopay: 4.39% – 8.99% APR 
  • Variable rates with autopay: 4.09% – 8.29% APR 
  • Loan terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance


  • 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. 

Its rates and loan specifics are as follows:

  • Fixed rates with autopay: 4.49% – 8.99% APR
  • Variable rates with autopay: 4.49% – 8.99% APR
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance

Laurel Road

  • Extra rate discounts if you open a Laurel Road Linked CheckingSM account
  • No application or origination fees
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

Laurel Road is a bank and student loan lender that offers some of the lowest refinance rates available. The lowest rates are tied to a promotion where you must open a checking account and establish a qualifying direct deposit. 

  • Fixed rates with autopay: 4.49% – 8.99% APR
  • Variable rates with autopay: 4.49% – 8.99% APR
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total cost of attendance


  • You’ll be assigned a single Student Loan Advisor
  • 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 questionable customer service, ELFI assigns you a student loan advisor to walk through the process and answer any questions you have.

Of course, you’ll also need to know the specifics of ELFI student loan refinances.

  • Fixed rates with autopay: 4.83% – 7.64% APR 
  • Variable rates with autopay: 3.99% – 7.24% APR
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance

Refinance Sallie Mae loans vs. consolidate

Before deciding to refinance Sallie Mae student loans, ensure consolidating isn’t the better option. 

You should understand the major differences between consolidating and refinancing your loans if you’re trying to make changes to 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. 

The new loan isn’t cheaper because your new interest rate is a weighted average of rates on the loans you consolidated to the nearest one-eighth percent. (See an example of a weighted average.)

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


Refinancing student loans often gets 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 existing debt into one big loan. Instead, 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. 

Note: 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.

>>Read more: Sallie Mae loans review

Considerations before you refinance Sallie Mae loans

If you’re thinking about refinancing your Sallie Mae loans, consider the following questions.

Are you trying to lower your rate?

If your goal is to pay less interest, refinancing is only effective when you qualify for a lower interest rate. 

That means a credit score of 680 or better for most lenders. 

The first action you can take to plan for this is to check and monitor your credit reports. Next, you’ll want to prequalify with several lenders. Prequalifying lets you check your rate without a hit to your credit. Then you can pick the lender with the best offer.

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. However, this could lead to higher costs in the long run due to paying interest for longer.

The idea is to refinance to a lower rate and a lower monthly payment so your total loan cost won’t rise as if you refinanced to a higher rate and longer repayment term.

Forecasting how your refinance loan will affect your long-term costs is wise. Our student loan refinance calculator can help you run the numbers to see how a change in loan rates or loan repayment options could affect your costs.

Do you still need your cosigner?

Suppose you took out your original loan with a cosigner because you couldn’t qualify. In that case, refinancing might be an excellent opportunity to release that cosigner from their obligation to your student loan debt.

That said, your cosigner may still have 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.

>>Read more: Should you get rid of Sallie Mae loans?