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Sallie Mae student loans: 2023 review

Updated on November 20, 2023

At a glance

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Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
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Repayment Options
Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
Customer Experience
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

About Bankrate Score

Sallie Mae is among the most well-known lenders in the U.S. The company provides loans to undergraduates and graduates, as well as to those in law, medical or dental school. Notably, the company offers private student loans to students who are enrolled half-time, part-time, online or abroad. Sallie Mae offers competitive rates and allows co-signers, making it a viable option for many borrowers.

Lender Details


Loan amount

$1,000 to total cost of attendance


APR from

6.37% - 16.70% Variable APR; 4.50% - 15.49% Fixed APR

Clock Wait

Term lengths

10 to 15 years

Sallie Mae features

Sallie Mae’s private student loan offerings include undergraduate, MBA, medical school, medical residency, dental school, dental residency, health professions, law school, bar study and graduate school loans. It also offers career-training student loans.

Low annual percentage rates (APRs), few fees and flexible repayment options make this lender worth considering. Sallie Mae can cover up to 100 percent of your school-certified costs of attendance, and you can take advantage of extra benefits — like free online tools.

Sallie Mae: in the details

Pros and cons of Sallie Mae student loans

If you think you qualify for a Sallie Mae undergraduate or graduate loan, decide if the company is right for your needs.

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  • Large loan amounts: You could get 100 percent of your school-certified costs covered at an approved school or institution.
  • Educational resources: Sallie Mae supports students at multiple points in their educational journey, with free study help and college expense calculators available to current and prospective borrowers.
  • Variety of programs supported: Most lenders require you to be attending school at least half time, but Sallie Mae offers loans for students attending less than half time, students attending online or summer classes, students studying abroad and students enrolled in professional certification courses.
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  • Unspecified forbearance: While Sallie Mae says that it will work with borrowers who are experiencing financial hardship, it doesn’t have a clear forbearance policy.
  • Website lacks transparency: Sallie Mae doesn’t list many eligibility requirements, like a minimum credit score, on its website.
  • Limited repayment terms: If you’re attending any kind of graduate school program, you’ll have only one repayment term option: 15 or 20 years, depending on the type of program. Undergraduates are limited to a term between 10 and 15 years.

Sallie Mae student loan requirements

Qualification requirements to take out a loan vary by loan type, and Sallie Mae’s website is scarce on exact requirements. In general, borrowers must have a history of borrowing money and paying it back on time; if you don’t have a lot of credit to your name, you can also apply with a creditworthy co-signer. You also must be applying for a loan from an eligible school, which you can see by starting an application.

Sallie Mae accepts applications from students attending:

  • Full time, half time or less than half time.
  • Online or on-campus classes.
  • Winter or summer classes.
  • Study abroad.
  • Professional certification courses.
  • School in a foreign country.

Non-U.S. citizens residing in and attending school in the U.S. may also qualify for a loan if they have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Who is this loan good for?

Sallie Mae is a great option for those interested in borrowing from a well-established lender with low rates, few fees and a variety of loan options. Borrowers with more unique educational needs, like funds for an online certification course, may have more luck finding a loan with Sallie Mae than with similar lenders. Borrowers who have a poor credit score and don’t have a co-signer may need to shop around.

Interest rates and terms

Sallie Mae offers one discount of 0.25 percent if you enroll in autopay. The rates presented below include this discount:

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans 6.37% to 16.70% APR 4.50% to 15.49% APR
Graduate student loans 6.87% to 16.47% APR 4.99% to 14.48% APR
MBA student loans 6.87% to 16.47% APR 4.99% to 14.48% APR
Health profession student loans 6.87% to 16.47% APR 4.99% to 14.48% APR
Law school student loans 6.87% to 16.46% APR 4.99% to 14.47% APR
Medical residency student loans 7.94% to 13.34% APR 6.40% to 10.26% APR
Bar exam student loans 8.13% to 17.72% APR 7.01% to 15.26% APR
Medical school student loans 6.87% to 16.44% APR 4.99% to 14.46% APR
Dental residency student loans 7.94% to 13.34% APR 6.40% to 10.26% APR
Dental student loans 6.87% to 16.45% APR 4.99% to 14.47% APR

Fees and penalties

There’s no origination fee or application fee with loans from Sallie Mae. It will, however, charge a late payment fee of 5 percent of the past-due amount up to $25 and a returned check fee of up to $20.

Repayment terms and grace period

Undergraduate, graduate, MBA, health professions, dental school, medical school and law school student loans offer three main repayment options:

  • Deferred: With the deferred option, you make no payments while in school and during the grace period after leaving school. After that period of time, you pay principal and interest.
  • Fixed: The fixed option requires you to pay $25 per month while you’re in school and during the grace period.
  • Interest: With the interest-only option, you pay only the interest on your loan while you’re in school and during the grace period. After that period, you pay interest and principal on your loan.

Undergraduates can choose a repayment term between 10 and 15 years. MBA, law, health professions and general graduate school loans have a 15-year repayment term, while medical and dental school loans have a 20-year repayment term.

Undergraduate, graduate, MBA and health profession loans have a six-month grace period. Law school loans have a nine-month grace period, dental school loans have a 12-month grace period and medical school loans have a 36-month grace period.

Bar study loans have the option of deferred repayment while you’re in school at least half time and during the nine-month grace period. Medical and dental residency loans increase this grace period to three years if you remain enrolled at least half time.

How to apply for a loan with Sallie Mae

Though Sallie Mae has several different loan options, the process for applying is generally the same across the board. Primary borrowers or co-signers can start the application process through the lender’s website.

Here are the main steps to apply for a loan through Sallie Mae:

  • After clicking “Apply for a Loan,” you’ll provide your loan purpose, school information, name, Social Security number and contact information.

  • Answer questions and information about the loan amount desired, employment info, financial aid info and personal contacts.

Customer service

Sallie Mae gets an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau, the highest possible grade. The rating takes into account complaint history and whether the business has appropriately responded to complaints, resolved them in a timely manner and made a good faith effort to resolve those complaints.

Sallie Mae’s customer service department is available via phone or mail. New student loan customers may call 855-756-5626 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Sallie Mae frequently asked questions

  • No, Sallie Mae doesn’t allow borrowers to refinance or consolidate their student loans at a lower rate with a Sallie Mae loan.

  • Sallie Mae only offers private student loans to borrowers.

How Bankrate rates Sallie Mae

Overall Score 4.3
Repayment Options 4.6 Sallie Mae has many loan types and no maximum borrowing limit, though it does limit the choice of repayment terms.
Affordability 3.8 Sallie Mae offers competitive rates for creditworthy borrowers but does charge a late fee and a returned check fee.
Customer Experience 4.5 While it does offer a mobile app, which is rare among lenders, Sallie Mae has slightly more limited customer support hours than competitors.


The Bankrate team evaluated over a dozen lenders to select our top picks for the best student loans. To do this, Bankrate considers 14 factors, including loan amounts, fees, repayment terms and options, as well as fixed and variable APR ranges. Then, lenders are rated using our vetting system known as the Bankrate Score, which focuses on three main categories.

  • Availability: We looked at minimum and maximum loan amounts, as well as the lender’s eligibility requirements, cosigner option, degrees covered and state availability. Lenders that offered the most flexibility as well as nationwide servicing and that offered financing for a variety of programs ranked higher in this section.
  • Affordability: Fixed and variable interest rates, fees, penalties and discounts were measured in this category. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and multiple discounts got the higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at the ease of the application process, as well as online account management tools, customer support hours, app availability, repayment options and grace periods offered by the lenders. This allowed us to determine the lenders’ ability to satisfactorily serve customers.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.