Of all the student loan providers currently on the market, none are probably as well-known as Sallie Mae. Once a federally-backed student loan provider and servicer, the company was restructured in 2014 and is now entirely a consumer bank specializing in offering private student loans; the loan servicing portion of its portfolio has been spun off as its own company Navient. While not the giant it once was, Sallie Mae is still an important player in the student loan market. Does the reimagined company have what it takes to compete in the modern student loan world? Our Sallie Mae student loan review provides a detailed account.
Sallie Mae Student Loan Review
Sallie Mae has not changed its target demographic much since its restructuring in 2014, though as a private finance company it now has slightly greater restrictions on borrowers. While we address those in the later part of the Sallie Mae student loan review, it does reflect in the kind of loans that Sallie Mae offers. Its best rates are not among the top rates available on student loans, but the high end of both the fixed and variable rates on their loans is not as high as some other institutions. In general, this makes for a better deal for borrowers with good credit, but borrowers with excellent credit can get a better deal elsewhere.
You might also like: Citizens Bank Student Loan Review
Sallie Mae also offers a number of different repayment options and a full range of different forbearance tracks that allow borrowers to hold off on paying their loans for a time due to various life changes. The loans will still accrue interest during these periods though, so it may not be a good idea to take advantage of them unless necessary. The flexibility does make Sallie Mae a good option for borrowers who are not fully sure about their post-college plans, such as internships, further studies, or military service, and want the option to be able to suspend or delay their student loan payments if they choose to pursue any such options.
- Fixed Rates: 5.74% – 11.85%
- Variable Rates: 4.00% – 10.86%
- Loan Terms: 5 to 15 years
- Minimum Amount: $1,000
- Maximum Amount: Up to the full cost of attendance, as certified by the school
Sallie Mae Student Loan Requirements
Sallie Mae has generally been fairly opaque when asked about their requirements by journalists writing Sallie Mae student loan reviews, so our Sallie Mae student loan review has to make use of other available data to make sense of what it takes to get a loan through Sallie Mae. In general, the requirements seem to be fairly high for individual borrowers, as most people who have successfully gotten accepted by Sallie Mae had a cosigner with them. There is no application fee, however, and the application process is fairly quick, making it easy to see if you could qualify.
- Credit Score: Around 700 or more
- Annual Income: Varies depending on credit, cosigner, and loan amount
- Citizenship: Citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or have one as a cosigner
- Application Fee: None
- Other requirements: must be attending an institution that grants degrees, though it does not have to be Title IV qualified.
We Liked Sallie Mae Student Loans Because…
There are several good reasons to choose a Sallie Mae loan in our Sallie Mae student loan review.
- A full variety of different repayment options. In addition to the usual deferred repayment and immediate repayment options, it is also possible to arrange fixed repayment and interest-only repayment on a Sallie Mae student loan. Fixed repayment involves paying a nominal amount of $25 each month while in school before starting to make full payments after graduation. Interest-only repayment is just that – paying interest while in school and the full loan after graduation. The two options also reduce the interest rate of the loan by 0.5% and 1% respectively, which could mean significant savings.
- Many deferment options. It is possible to have Sallie Mae temporarily halt repayment on your student loans if you go back to school, join the military, have a qualified internship, fellowship, or medical residency. It is also possible to request a forbearance for up to 12 months for no reason at all, though that incurs a fee. Graduate students can also request up to a year of interest-only payment after graduating.
- No origination fee or prepayment penalty. Those are two common fees that often come as a surprise to borrowers, so it is good that Sallie Mae loans don’t include them. The lack of a prepayment penalty also makes it a good deal to make payments beyond the minimum required in order to repay the loans faster.
Not So Sure About…
A Sallie Mae student loan review would be incomplete without mentioning some of the drawbacks of their loans.
- Strict requirements. While Sallie Mae used to accept almost anyone without obvious negatives on their credit history, their requirements have now become more restrictive and many otherwise qualified borrowers might find themselves unable to get approved for a student loan because of that. The tough criteria also take some luster away from the excellent forbearance and repayment options available, as those who might get the best use from them are unlikely to qualify for a loan in the first place.
- Their rates are not great. While far from the worst rates on the market today, Sallie Mae seems to charge borrowers slightly higher interest rates than they could get elsewhere. Considering the relatively high qualifications necessary to get a Sallie Mae loan, it is possible that many of their borrowers could get better rates from other providers.
- Limited customer support options. If you need to discuss your student loan application or existing loans with a customer service representative, there is only one option offered by Sallie Mae – a phone call. With no email or chat support, and a relatively rudimentary online interface, Sallie Mae is far behind its competitors when it comes to communication. This is especially egregious when considering that their primary audience is tech-savvy college students. Other student loan providers tend to offer much easier ways to reach them than Sallie Mae does.
Online Reviews Say That…
Looking at Sallie Mae student loan reviews online, the trend seems to point to an average to negative view of the company. Customer reviews, in particular, are overwhelmingly negative, complaining of difficulties with customer support, lost payments, and high interest rates. Similarly, reviewers tend to focus on the negative business practices that have been a problem for Sallie Mae over the years, such as automatic defaults. Other reviewers have noted its high loan limits as good, while considering its customer service as a negative for an overall mixed review.
Sallie Mae Student Loans Contact Details
Unlike most of the modern student loan providers, Sallie Mae can almost exclusively be contacted only by phone. No email, chat, or other modern options are available.
- Customer Support: 855-756-5626
- Email address: not available
It is clear from the information we’ve uncovered during our Sallie Mae student loan review that the newly restructured Sallie Mae is still unsure about the kind of student loan provider it wants to be. The company is still plagued by poor communication and some questionable practices that characterized its old incarnation. It has however, become more selective in its applicants, while still offering a number of excellent deferment, forbearance, and repayment options. It is a good loan for students looking for flexibility, but it is important to read the fine print. How has your experience with Sallie Mae been? Tell us about it below!