Sallie Mae Competitors and Alternatives
Sallie Mae is one of the most well-known private student loan lenders in the industry. Despite this popularity, however, there are alternatives to consider when shopping around for a loan including SoFi, PNC, and Wells Fargo.
Sallie Mae is among the most predominant private student loan companies, but other financial services firms also offer competitive options.
Today, several banks provide a variety of student loan products with unique rates, terms, and perks to cater to a variety of borrowers. Those products include undergraduate and graduate loans, career training loans, and parent loans.
Though many borrowers turn to Sallie Mae to help fund their education, SoFi, PNC, and Wells Fargo also offer competitive options for students.
- Sallie Mae Competitors: Private Student Loan Comparison
- Reviews of Sallie Mae Alternatives
- Sallie Mae Details
Sallie Mae Competitors: Private Student Loan Comparison
Alternatives to Sallie Mae Student Loans
- Variable rates ranging from 5.99 – 13.99 APR3
- Cover up to 100% of school-certified expenses1
- Get a cash reward for good grades2
- Rates ranging from 4.07% – 11.32% APR
- New private undergrad, graduate, and parent loans available
- Zero application fees, origination fees, or prepayment fees
Sallie Mae Alternatives
PNC offers undergraduate and graduates student loans with variable APRs between 5.03% to 11.23% and fixed rates between 6.01% to 12.29%, which are slightly higher than Sallie Mae’s rates.
Borrowers can have up to 15 years to repay their loans, though they are free to do so sooner. PNC student loans have a maximum aggregate limit of $225,000.
Borrowers must have at least “two years of satisfactory credit history and two years of continuous income and/or employment history,” according to PNC’s website. However, those who do not qualify can also secure a co-signer.
Like both Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo, PNC certifies the loan then sends it to the college or university. The time with which the funds are disbursed depends on the financial processes of the schools.
SoFi offers both new private student loans as well as student loan refinancing.
SoFi offers new private student loans with variable rates from 4.73% to 11.74% and fixed rates from 5.73% to 11.99%. These rates are higher than Sallie Mae’s but you still may qualify for a lower rate with SoFi than you would with Sallie Mae.
If you already have a Sallie Mae loan and would like to refinance it, SoFi might be an option. Sallie Mae does not offer student loan refinancing, so you’ll need to turn to a different lender if this is the path you’d like to take.
SoFi’s refinanced loans come with variable APRs between 2.51% and 7.55% and fixed rates between 3.89% and 7.80%, SoFi’s loans might offer lower interest rates. Plus, they may provide more flexible terms with options between five and 20 years.
Qualifying for a SoFi private student loan will be easier if you add a creditworthy cosigner, like with most other private lenders. There are not minimum credit scores listed on the SoFi website.
For refinancing with SoFi, the average borrower has a credit score above 700. It’s also important to note that you must have at least $5,000 in school debt with the maximum being the full balance of all qualified loans.
Wells Fargo offers a variety of lending-based products including school loans. These loans are offered at a variable APR between 4.80% and 10.72% and a fixed APR between 5.49% and 10.93%. Those rates are slightly higher than Sallie Mae’s undergrad loans.
For graduate loans, variable interest rates range from 5.64% APR to 12.22% APR and fixed interest rates range from 5.88% APR to 12.68% APR – higher than Sallie Mae’s graduate loan rates.
Additionally, approved borrowers can take out a loan of between $1,000 and the total cost of their education but the amount cannot exceed $120,000 combined with other loans. Loans are typically offered for a 15-year term, though the option to pay it off sooner can be arranged.
Approval depends on a variety of factors, including credit history, payment history, and existing debt, but it does not depend on your credit score. Borrowers who cannot meet approval requirements on their own can add a cosigner.
Loans are typically certified within a few days, but overall disbursement depends on the rules and policies of the college or university.
Sallie Mae’s Private Student Loans
To learn more about Sallie Mae, you can either check out our full Sallie Mae Student Loans Review or continue reading to see the main points of their most popular loan: the Smart Option Student Loan.
The Smart Option Student Loan is available for undergraduates and graduates with the following terms:
Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students
- Rates: 5.74% to 11.85% fixed APR or a 4.12% to 10.98% variable APR
- Terms: Five to 15 years under a deferred, fixed, or interest repayment option
Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan
- Rates: 6.25% to 9.16% fixed APR or a 4.12% to 9.16% variable APR
- Terms: 15 years under a deferred, fixed, or interest repayment option
Of course, the first step in the loan application process should be to review the products and determine which one is right for you.
Sallie Mae’s Loan Application Process
Applying for a Smart Option Student Loan through Sallie Mae is easy and can be done online in about 15 minutes, with credit results also available in that time.
To apply, you must provide the required personal, academic, and financial information. This information includes your SSN (as well as a cosigner’s SSN, if applicable), your current enrollment status, degree and course of study, the academic period, and year in which you will be enrolled.
It also includes the loan amount requested, any additional funds you will receive, and the name and contact information of two personal contacts.
Sallie Mae’s Eligibility Requirements
If you feel Sallie Mae might be a good fit for your loan needs, keep in mind that loan approval is based on a variety of factors including your payment history, outstanding debt, and length of credit history.
It is also based on your credit score, though the company does not provide specific information about its credit score threshold.
As such, candidates who have a history of making timely payments, have little to no outstanding debt, and have a growing credit history likely have an advantage. However, those who do not meet the requirements do have the opportunity to apply with a cosigner.
Sallie Mae Pros and Cons
As a company, Sallie Mae has been in the business of student lending for over 45 years and has a 100 percent U.S.-based customer service department.
They offer competitive rates, particularly to those who are eligible for the lowest advertised rates. Additionally, the lender offers some perks such as the ability to track your FICO score, a mobile app, a resource center, and free enrollment in online tutoring and study services Chegg Tutors and Chegg Study.
That said, some users may find Sallie Mae’s website cumbersome. Finding pertinent information like loan terms or credit requirements can be difficult. Sallie Mae tends to lag behind other newer private lenders that offer robust resource centers and loan transparency.
In addition, borrowers who want to shop around for rates may find it disheartening to find that while other lenders offer soft inquiry quotes, Sallie Mae runs a hard inquiry during the application process. That may not bode well for those with low credit scores or thin credit as hard inquiries can negatively impact their credit scores.
Discover Student Loan Disclosures
- Aggregate loan limits apply.
- Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please click here for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
- The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.00% as of January 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please click here for more information about interest rates.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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