Sallie Mae Student Loan Review: Check out the Lowest Rates

Sallie Mae is one of the oldest and well-established private student loan providers in the United States. Our Sallie Mae review found that the lender offers excellent rates, generous, and in some cases extremely generous, grace periods and varied repayment options to keep your student debt in check.

No origination or early repayment fees Best for
4 /5
$ /mo
Starting Price
Visit Site
Table of Contents

    One of the things that struck us about the company is its commitment to minimizing the amount of private loans you take out.

    The company really prods you to search for other college funding methods, such federal loans or scholarships, before you turn to private loans.

    In general, Sallie Mae’s robust educational resources and clear language help you make informed decisions about what may be one of the most critical loans of your life.

    Although they don’t offer refinancing, there are lots of benefits and perks, such as the company’s own scholarship program and free four-month Study Starter benefit for undergrads, that make a difference.

    Read our Sallie Mae student loan review to see if this is the right student loan provider for you.

    Sallie Mae

    Sallie Mae is one of the cornerstones of America’s private loan industry. The lender was established in 1973 as a federal student loan issuer. Over time, Sallie Mae and the government parted ways, and they now issues private loans for students, parents of children at private schools, and personal loans. 

    We liked that the lender is a one-stop-shop for student loans, issuing loans, collecting them, and accompanying you throughout the entire repayment process. The fact that the lender offers online banking is also convenient, letting borrowers concentrate all of their transactions in one place.

    Why Get a Loan from Sallie Mae?

    In the age of the startup, it might seem surprising to opt for an older lender. Even so, Sallie Mae has done a really good job of taking its accumulated years of knowledge and funneling it into a simple, accessible student loan experience. 

    What is it best for:

    • Flexible rates
    • Multiple repayment tracks
    • Few fees
    • Educational resources and tools walk students through a process that could otherwise be pretty daunting.
    • Cosigner release quickly

    Bonus features like the 0.25% discount that’s applied to your interest rates when you sign up for Sallie Mae’s (mandatory) autopayments, its own scholarship program and free four-month access to the company’s Study Starter homework support tool help students develop responsibility for their studies and finances.

    We were happy to see that international students and US citizens studying abroad also have access to Lender’s flexible student loans, and that specific graduate fields have access to longer grace periods within their loan terms.

    What Student Loans does Sallie Mae Offer?

    After over 50 years in the student loan business, Sallie Mae has the private student loan landscape thoroughly covered.

    Choose from four standout student loan options:

    Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students

    Sallie Mae’s undergrad plan covers 100% of school-related fees. Bonus features include four months of free access to Sallie Mae’s Study Starter homework support package and free access to your FICO scores.

    Sallie Mae Graduate Student Loan

    The company has tailored graduate student loans for different professions. Its generic graduate student loan gives you 12 months after your 6-month grace period to make interest-only payments and lets you repay the loan in up to 15 years. The company’s MBA loans providers up to 48 months deferment while you’re in an internship and 3 repayment options. In contrast, medical students have access to a remarkable 36-month grace period and have up to 20 years to repay their loans. 

    Sallie Mae Parent Loan

    In addition to giving your child access to StudyStarter, Sallie Mae parent loans aren’t shackled by origination fees and may be eligible for tax deductions. Children still have access to 4 months of free StudyStarter and aren’t in danger of negatively impacting their credit ratings.

    Career Training Smart Option Student Loan

    Meant for trade-certificate classes and other professional courses that don’t come with a degree, Sallie Mae’s career-oriented loan track offers variable rates and two repayment options. Their career-training loans start at $1,000 at can reach up to 100% of your school-related fees. 

    Student Loan Refinancing with Sallie Mae

    Sallie Mae does not currently offer refinancing.

    Loan Types Offered by Sallie Mae

    As one of the major lenders in the US, Sallie Mae offers a variety of student loan options for both parents and students themselves. These include: 

    Undergraduate loans

    These are the standard student loan, and help students pay for their undergraduate studies and are available with fixed or variable interest. 

    Career training loans

    These loans are designed for those who are looking to expand their skills with professional training, trade certifications, and more at non-degree-granting schools.

    Parent loans

    Loans for parents are meant to help them finance their children’s education. These loans operate somewhat differently from standard student loans but offer similar terms.

    K-12 loans

    This loan type is available to help parents afford their children’s elementary or high school education at a private institution. 

    MBA loans

    The company’s MBA loans are meant for students who are attending a Masters in Business Administration program and offers some extended perks for students who use it.

    Medical and dental school loans

    These are designed for students who are still in medical school and need help in financing their educational costs. 

    Medical and dental residency loans

    These are similar to medical school loans but are designed for students who have finished it and are completing their residency. 

    Health professions graduate loans

    This loan is designed specifically for students who are studying allied health, nursing, pharmacy, and other similar graduate-level health programs. 

    Law school loans

    These loans are specifically for students who are completing their graduate studies at a law school. 

    Bar study loans

    For students who have completed their law degrees but have yet to take the Bar exam, these loans help cover the transition period. 

    Graduate loans

    These are the standard loans for most non-specific graduate degrees. 

    Sallie Mae Rates, Fees and Terms for December 2020

    One of the things that really impressed us with Sallie Mae was the company’s punchy interest rates, available discounts, and signup perks.

    For All Products 
    • Part-time students
    • Enrolled at least half time 
    Loan Amountsmin. $1,000 up to 100% of school-certified costs of attendance
    • Late fee: 5% or $25. (the lesser amount)
    • Prepayment Penalty: no
    • Application fee: no
    Grace PeriodSix months to 3 years
    Cosigner release? Permitted after 1 year monthly payments
    Discounts0.25% autopay

    Fixed Interest Rates

    Variable Interest Rates 

    Grace Period

    Repayment Period


    4.75% - 12.11% APR1

    2.25% - 11.76% APR1

    6 months 

    15 years


    4.25% – 12.35% APR2

    1.25% – 11.10% APR2

    no payments until after you leave school

    5 to 15 years

    Career Training

    6.62% – 13.83% APR1

    4.25% – 11.64% APR1

     6 months

    5 to 15 years

    Parent Loans

    5.49% – 13.87% APR1

    3.50% – 13.12% APR1


    10 years

    K-12 Loans

    7.24% - 13.87% APR*


    3 years

    MBA Loans

    4.75% - 12.11% APR1

    2.25% - 11.76% APR

     6 months

    15 years

    Medical  School Loans

    4.75% - 11.97% APR1

    2.25% - 11.60% APR1

     36 months

    20 years

    Dental School Loans

    4.75% - 11.98% APR1

    2.25% - 11.61% APR1

    12 months

    20 years

    Medical and Dental Residency Loans

    6.52% – 12.00% APR1

    3.03% - 9.62% APR1

     36 months

    20 years

    Health Professions Graduate Loans 

    4.75% - 12.11% APR1

    2.25% - 11.76% APR1

    6 months

    15 years

    Law School Loans

    4.75% - 11.98% APR1

    2.25% - 11.61% APR1

    9 months

    15 years

    Bar Study Loans

    5.75% – 12.68% APR1

    3.02% - 9.96% APR1

    9 months

    15 year

    Repayment Options

    While you’re in school, Sallie Mae offers the following repayment options: 

    Interest-only payments - If you want to reduce how much you pay overall, you can start paying off the monthly interest that accrues on your loan to avoid having a higher principal when you graduate. 

    Fixed payments - If you want to start paying down your debt immediately, but are limited in funds, you can set a fixed monthly payment to help chip away at your principal and interest and reduce your lifetime payments a little. 

    Deferred payments - You can also choose to defer your payments until you’ve completed your grace period, but keep in mind that your loan will continue to accrue interest in the meanwhile. 

    Additionally, the lender offers a graduated repayment period, which lets you make interest-only payments during your separation period to help you transition into your post-graduation life. 

    Customer Service 

    If you want to learn more about Sallie Mae and student loans themselves, you can visit the company’s blog, which features a variety of topics and educational resources. Additionally, you can read through the informative FAQ. If you need to speak with a support representative, you can speak to representatives over the phone between Monday and Saturday. 

    Sallie Mae Pros and Cons 


    • Gives you the resources, tools and advice to explore options like federal loans and scholarships before turning to a private student loan.
    • Currently offers its homework support tool, Study Smart, free for four months with undergrad and parent loans.
    • Customized graduate loan tracks with flexible terms for graduate students in different fields such as medicine, dentistry, and business.
    • Sallie Mae’s career loans make it possible for you to study professions outside the traditional college or university framework.
    • Competitive rates and multiple repayment options with each plan let you build a repayment schedule that you can actually repay on time.
    • Undergrad and graduate loans enjoy up to a 6-month grace period; some Sallie Mae graduate loans have a much longer grace period such as 12 or even 36 months. 
    • Release your cosigner as early as after 12 months by meeting certain requirements.
    • Student loans are available to non-US citizens with a creditworthy cosigner or for US citizens or permanent residents studying abroad in eligible programs.
    • Available to students even if they are enrolled for less than half-time.


    • Does not offer refinancing at present.
    • Does not offer reductions in principle for successfully graduating.
    • Non-degree career loans only have access to variable interest rates.

    How to Apply for a Sallie Mae Student Loan 

    As part of their ethos of making the student loan procedure seamless, Sallie Mae’s student loan application process is very intuitive. You’ll need to have the following documentation in order:

    1- Personal information: your address and social security number.
    2- Academic information: your enrollment status, the school, the degree, what year of study this is out of how many.
    3- Employment information: where you work and how much you make.
    4- Financial information: your bank account number and fixed payments like mortgage or rent.
    5- Loan information: how much you would like to borrow and whether you’re receiving other types of financial aid.
    6- Two contacts (Aside from your cosigner).

    Once you complete your application, Sallie Mae will take about 15 minutes to approve your loan – if it has any questions, it may ask for more detailed information. If you are approved, you’ll choose your interest rates and repayment plans, you or your cosigner will sign the loan contract online. At that point, they will be in touch with your school to make sure you’re actually enrolled there and to set up disbursement.


    For the most part, we were very happy with the student loans that Sallie Mae has to offer. We liked that you could choose between fixed and variable interest rates, payment plans that let you pay a fixed $25 a month or only interest per month while you were in school, and the lender’s generous grace periods that let you find your feet in the post-college haze.

    Another aspect that’s uncommon for student lenders is its career-oriented track, which gives you the financial backing to pursue your career calling even if it comes with a certificate instead of a degree.

    Although Sallie Mae doesn’t refinance loans, its student loan products are available to international students and to US students studying abroad – again, not a given in the student loan lending space.

    If you’re looking for a student loan lender that offers excellent terms and provides the educational materials you need to make the best financial choices for you, Sallie Mae could be right up your alley. 

    Check Rates for Sallie Mae