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Sallie Mae Review

Tuesday, January 18th

2022 Student Loan Provider Reviews

Sallie Mae Review 2.5 Star Rating

Sallie Mae

2.5 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • Borrow up to 100% of school-certified expenses
  • 96% multi-year acceptance rate on cosigned loans
  • Many loan types available: undergraduate, career training, graduate/MBA, medical/dental/law school, bar study, parent
  • Fixed rate and variable rates loans with advertised rates slightly higher than their competition
  • Multiple repayment options
  • 4 free months of Chegg Study
  • 100% US-based customer service

Sallie Mae is all about student loans. Originally, it was a governmental organization that serviced federal education loans, but the Sallie Mae Bank now operates as a standalone funding option strictly for private loans: more than $19 billion in current student loans, to be exact! You can be approved to borrow up to 100% of your school-certified expenses: this can include not just your tuition and fees but also books, housing, meals, travel, even a laptop.

High approval rates for subsequent loans

One reason that many students choose Sallie Mae to fund their education is because of the lender's high approval rate for returning students. According to the lender, 96% of undergraduate students who apply for a loan after their first year of borrowing continue to get funding (when they return with a cosigner). Note that Sallie Mae doesn't specify how much students get from year to year; some students report that their loans got smaller from one school year to the next.

Loans available even with less than half-time enrollment

Sallie Mae doesn't charge origination fees on any student loans, and they keep their interest rates competitive. We invite you to visit their site to get the current rates for your type of loan, but as a point of reference their advertised rates are a little higher than other lenders we reviewed. Also, you can be approved for a loan even if your enrollment is less than half-time; that's a plus over lending institutions that require a full-time commitment to be eligible.

Nice range of repayment options

How about repayments? You'll get a 0.25% discount when you make your repayments via auto debit; that's pretty common among student loan providers. Plus, Sallie Mae has a wide range of repayment options. While you're in school, you can choose from deferred repayments (no payments required while in school or during your grace/separation period), fixed repayments (pay the same amount every month), or interest repayments (just pay interest until you graduate and are out of your grace period). Once you've left school, you can take advantage of Sallie Mae's Graduated Repayment Period that allows you to make interest-only repayments for up to a year, or request deferment, forbearance, rate reduction or term/rate modification if you encounter financial difficulties.

Cosigners eligible for release after 12 consecutive, on-time payments

We appreciate that Sallie Mae allows for loans both with and without cosigners. If you choose one of their student loans and get approved with a cosigner, they can be released after just 12 on-time principal and interest payments. That's a big advantage over lenders who require a total of 24 payments before granting the release. Bear in mind that you'll need to meet certain criteria for approval, such as a credit review of your own history, proof of income, and proof of graduation.

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Loans waived upon disability or death of the student

Also, this lender is more compassionate than average when it comes to the death or disability of the borrower. If the student "becomes totally and permanently disabled" or dies, Sallie Mae will waive the current balance on the loan, minus any tuition refunds paid out by the school itself.

Extra perks to help you learn

Finally, at the time of this evaluation, Sallie Mae was offering a promotional benefit of four complimentary months of Chegg Study for all undergraduate and parent loans. This study program lets students get expert answers on up to 20 questions per month.

Customer service is a nightmare

You might think that with so many perks for borrowers, 100% US-based customer service, and an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, Sallie Mae would be one of the best choices for taking out student loans. Unfortunately, student feedback on how this lender services their loans continues to be extremely negative. We found hundreds of complaints and unhappy reviews that can be described as troubling at best. One person said that Sallie Mae agreed to put their loan into deferral status, but instead they entered it as a charge off - which dropped the credit scores of the borrower and cosigner by 200 points! This error wasn't taken care of in a timely fashion and impacted the individuals' ability to rent an apartment. Not good at all! Another complaint described how a Sallie Mae representative called all of the members of the borrower's family looking for repayments and then suggested that the parents take out a home equity loan. Even though Sallie Mae responded to every complaint filed at the BBB, it often took a week or longer - and still left the issue unresolved.

There are better options

Obviously, there are lots of college students who use Sallie Mae for their student loans. This platform offers a vast array of loan types, repayment terms, and has some benefits that go above and beyond what you might see with other lenders. However, is it worth it if the servicing is a nightmare? If your credit score is damaged for no apparent reason? We would have to say no. Use Sallie Mae as your lender if you must, but we'd encourage you to check out a few other options for student loans before making the commitment here.

Where Can You Find the Best Student Loans?

With 45% of high school graduates finding it necessary to take on student debt to finance their higher learning, that's an important question to answer. While most student loan debt comes from federal loans, some people discover that their government loans just aren't enough to cover the full costs of tuition, room and board, expensive textbooks, and everything else necessary for their college education.

If you find yourself in that situation - for your studies or your children's - you might get overwhelmed trying to figure out where the money will come from. And even once you've selected a lender, you still need to decide what repayment terms are best. Fixed- or variable-rate? Interest-only or small fixed repayments while still in school or fully deferred for 6-9 months after graduation? Repaying over five years or twenty? There are a lot of factors to consider that are unique to you.

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Student Loan Provider FAQ

Most students need a loan to fund the full cost of their college education. While the majority of student loans in the United States come through federal programs, there are also private loans available. You usually have to start making repayments on student loans six months after your last semester, though you can start sooner if you wish. Student loans often have repayment terms of at least 10 years.
Yes, very easily. If you're applying for federal student loans, you'll complete the FAFSA online. For private student loans, there are several ways to apply: either directly with a financial institution, like Discover or Wells Fargo, or using a platform that connects you with multiple lenders using a single quote request or application.
Unlike many other types of borrowing, student loans are designed to be affordable - it's rare to be charged an application or origination fee, and you should be able to pay off your loan early with no penalties. Interest rates are also much lower than credit cards and personal loans, and you'll usually have very long repayment terms: starting 6 months after your last semester and often stretching 10 years into the future. Expect interest rates between 1% and 6%, but watch out for fixed vs. variable APRs.
Your student loan will probably be disbursed directly to your school, not deposited to your personal bank account. That's a good thing if you want to ensure that your loan money actually gets used for your education! Because the process requires your school to certify the loan amount, the process can take a few days or more. It's a wise idea to start the loan application process early, to make sure there's plenty of time to meet your school's payment deadlines.
If you have a financial hardship or other eligible circumstance, you can request to defer your student loan repayments. Most lenders allow you to suspend your payments for up to three years if you qualify. Contact the servicer of your student loan to find out what requirements you need to meet to defer your loan.
Forbearance is similar to deferring your student loan payments. If you don't qualify for a deferral but still can't pay your student loan, you might be able to get your payments reduced or suspended temporarily, for up to 12 months. You'll need to get in touch with the servicer of your student loan to see if you're eligible for a forbearance arrangement.
In limited circumstances, yes. It usually depends on the type of student loan you have, the lender, and your situation. Student loans may be forgiven (or, essentially, written off) in the event of the disability or death of the borrower; issues with the school, like closure, error or fraud; income-driven repayment plans or employment-based forgiveness programs.
Yes, most of the time. Tax laws are changing constantly, but in the past students have been able to reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 based on student loan interest paid, as long as they meet eligibility criteria (like having a qualified student loan that was used exclusively for educational expenses).
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Continued from above...

Fortunately, there are quite a few providers of student loans that can help you not only figure out those answers but also connect you with the money you need to pay for school. Many of them can even prequalify you for a loan with just your name, address and birthdate, with no impact on your credit report. Rest assured that millions of students (and many of their parents) have successfully navigated this process - and you can too.

Here are several aspects of student loan providers to keep in mind as you decide which ones merit further consideration:

  • Referral service or direct lender: Some sites serve as a comparison shopping platform, allowing you to get preliminary information about what loans might be available to you. These referral services may or may not use your information to complete some of the first steps of the application process. Other student loan sites directly connect you with the funding you need.
  • Interest rates. Don't be overly impressed by the super-low interest rates posted by any student loan provider: they almost always come with the caveat that only the "most qualified" candidates qualify for the best rates (and we've yet to find anyone that actually got a loan with rates that low). Just make sure that the rate you're offered is reasonable and competitive with other loans.
  • Repayment options. There are so many different ways to configure a student loan, like repayment terms ranging from 5-20 years, fixed and variable rates, and repayments either while still in school or deferred until after graduation. The more choices available to you, the more likely it is that you'll get loan terms you can afford.
  • Loan servicing. Getting a student loan is just the beginning. Take into account what other students have said about the experience after the application has been approved. Are funds disbursed quickly? Does the customer service team handle issues well? Can you expect any unpleasant surprises (like payments not being recorded accurately or not being able to reach support)?

To help you get the funds you need for your education, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for student loans today. We're confident that this information will make it possible to find the right way to cover the costs of your tuition, books and more!

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