Female college students discussing the Sallie Mae review they just read.

Sallie Mae Review [2024] Is Sallie Mae Good?

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Looking for a student loan? Join the club – or, should I say, the fraternity. 

43.6 million people in the U.S. have federal student loan debt. That’s a lot of Americans who decided a student loan was worth it. 

Taking out a student loan is a big commitment. So, you’ll have to choose your lender wisely.

One option is Sallie Mae, a former government program that now operates as a publicly traded company.

In this Sallie Mae review, I’ll describe exactly what the company can offer – from private student loans to high-yield savings accounts, and let you know if it’s good (or not).

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a publicly traded bank that focuses on student loans while also offering high-yield savings accounts. 

The federal government created Sallie Mae to service student loans back in 1972. That’s why you might still associate Sallie Mae with the government in your mind. But the bank went private in 2004, so now it’s a separate entity.

Sallie Mae offers these types of private student loans:

  • Undergraduate student loans
  • Career training student loans
  • Bar exam study loans
  • Graduate school loans
  • MBA loans
  • Medical school loans
  • Medical residency loans
  • Dental school loans
  • Dental residency loans
  • Health professional graduate loans
  • Law school loans

These are private student loans, meaning they’re not provided by the federal government. 

Generally, private student loans are more expensive than federal student loans, but they still provide an excellent option if you need additional funding for your education. 

In addition to student loans, Sallie Mae offers several online savings accounts:

  • SmartyPig – This is a basic “online piggy bank” that earns 4.25% APY*.
  • Money Market Account – With free transfers, a 4.75% APY*, and no minimum balance, this account is both flexible and lucrative.
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs) – The highest-earning CDs boast a 5.50% APY*, making this a smart way to grow your savings if you can afford to set them aside.
  • High Yield Savings Account – With no minimum balance, no monthly fee, and a 4.50% APY*, there’s a lot to like about this online account.

How Does Sallie Mae Work?

Sallie Mae offers two main services: student loans and savings accounts. This Sallie Mae review will focus on both of them.

Let’s start with student loans. They’re what made Sallie Mae famous – and they’re probably what attracted you in the first place.

One major benefit of using Sallie Mae is that you can apply for a student loan with a cosigner. The cosigner shares responsibility for the loan along with the student, making it three times more likely that the loan will be approved.  

Here’s the basic process for getting a student loan with Sallie Mae:

  • Step 1: Apply for the loan online. The student or the cosigner can begin the process. You’ll need some personal information on hand, including your permanent address, your social security number, your school’s information, the requested loan amount, your employment information, and financial information like bank accounts or monthly rent payments.
  • Step 2: Sallie Mae (hopefully!) approves your loan. This step can take as little as 15 minutes. 
  • Step 3: Accept the loan terms and sign electronically. Both the student and cosigner will need to sign (hence the term “cosigner!”)
  • Step 4: The school certifies the loan. At this stage, the educational institution verifies that you’re really enrolled and that the stated loan amount is accurate. 
  • Step 5: Sallie Mae sends the money straight to the school. In some cases, the funds may be divided into multiple payments. 
A view of a Sallie Mae student loan application.
Once you complete and submit your Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan application, Sallie Mae will let you know if you’ve been approved in as little as 15 minutes!
Source: Sallie Mae 

Once the loan has been approved and the money has been sent, you get to enjoy the payoff: an education! 

Of course, you’ll still be responsible for paying the loan off. Some students opt for in-school payments, meaning you’ll start paying off the loan as soon as Sallie Mae sends the funds to the school. Others don’t start paying until their education is over.

A graph demonstrating the overall Sallie Mae student loan cost after considering interest complied.
The sooner you start making payments on your Sallie Mae private student loans, the less you’ll owe in interest.
Source: Sallie Mae

In general, you’ll have 10-20 years to pay off a student loan from Sallie Mae. The exact terms will depend on the specific loan.

And as with any loan, you’ll pay interest on the money you’ve borrowed. Interest rates range from 4.50% – 17.47% APR* (annual percentage rate), and they vary depending on the type of student loan. Your specific rate will depend on several factors, including the size of the loan and whether you have a cosigner.

Now, let’s move on to the other side of Sallie Mae’s business: online savings accounts. 

Getting a savings account from Sallie Mae is super straightforward. All you have to do is apply for an account online. 

Once you’re approved, you can fund your account through free transfers from other banks. From there, you can easily manage your finances online. 

And it’s worth noting that Sallie Mae isn’t just dabbling in the high-yield savings game. With generous interest rates and accounts that are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Sallie Mae is doing it right!

Is Sallie Mae Good?

Sallie Mae is a great option for taking out a private student loan to further your education. 

Now, let me be honest – the interest rates are often higher than what you see with federal student loans. But sometimes, you simply need a private loan. And that’s where Sallie Mae provides a valuable service. 

With Sallie Mae, you can get a loan that will cover 100% of your educational costs – including equipment like a laptop. 

You’ll also have flexibility in how you pay your student loan back. Want to wait until you’ve finished school to start making payments? You can do that. Want to get ahead of your debt while you’re still a student? You can do that, too.

And when it comes to managing your loan, Sallie Mae is about as good as it gets. You can apply in just a few minutes online, and the Sallie Mae mobile app makes it easy to check your finances on the go.

Is Sallie Mae Legit?

Sallie Mae is completely legit. When it was first created, it was a government program. Now, it’s a publicly traded company with a solid reputation for providing generous student loans.

Here’s some more proof that Sallie Mae can be trusted:

  • It gets an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Its CEO Jonathan Witter has decades of experience as a bank executive.
  • Its mobile app has 4.5 stars on the Apple App Store.

Is Sallie Mae Safe? 

Sallie Mae is a reliable lender, and its savings accounts are 100% safe. That’s because Sallie Mae operates as a bank, and its accounts are insured by the FDIC. 

What does it mean to be FDIC-insured?

Basically, the federal government guarantees the first $250,000 that you keep in Sallie Mae accounts. 

Pros and Cons of Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is a reputable student loan provider and a great option for online savings accounts – but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using Sallie Mae.

Pros

  • You can apply for a student loan with a cosigner. And according to Sallie Mae, you’re three times more likely to be approved if you have a cosigner apply with you. 
  • You can get a loan for 100% of your education-related expenses. With a larger loan, you’ll be able to truly fund your personal and intellectual growth.
  • High yields on savings accounts and CDs. You can earn up to 4.50% APY* with a savings account and up to 5.50% APY* with a CD.

Cons

  • Limited account options. Sallie Mae is all about student loans and savings accounts – with few options for anything else.
  • No refinancing for student loans. If you want to refinance a Sallie Mae loan, you’ll have to do it with another student loan refinance lender. Sallie Mae doesn’t offer the service itself.
  • Limited transparency on the website. Want to know the exact terms you’ll receive for your student loan? Actually applying is the only way to find out.

Sallie Mae Reviews

On the ConsumerAffairs website, a customer left a 5-star Sallie Mae review thanking the lender for “the opportunity to finish college.”

A positive Sallie Mae review from a customer who used the popular lender to finish college.
In a 5-star Sallie Mae review, a customer shows their appreciation for the chance to finish college.
Source: ConsumerAffairs

On the Better Business Bureau website, Sallie Mae only gets an average of 1.12 stars from reviewers. That’s interesting, because the BBB itself gives Sallie Mae an A+ grade. So it seems a minority of angry customers might be leaving the majority of the reviews! 

In a 1-star Sallie Mae review, a customer complained that the interest rate on their loan increased to 14%. They even considered this increase a “scam.” 

This borrower probably had a variable-rate loan, meaning the interest rate can change along with the general interest rate climate. Well, federal interest rates have been rising lately – so variable-rate loans have seen their rates rising, too.

It’s not a scam, but I can see why this customer was frustrated. 

A negative Sallie Mae review from a customer who was upset about their interest rate increase.
A 1-star Sallie Mae review slams the lender for an increased interest rate. 
Source: Better Business Bureau

I found another 1-star Sallie Mae review with a similar complaint. This customer claimed that Sallie Mae doesn’t properly explain the concept of a “variable interest rate.” They also complained of threats to destroy your credit if you’re one day late with a payment. 

I can definitely sympathize with not understanding the ins and outs of a variable-rate loan. These things are complicated! That’s why my advice is to go “above and beyond” with your own research before signing a financial agreement. 

A negative Sallie Mae review from a borrower who was late to make a monthly payment.
A Sallie Mae customer calls Sallie Mae’s lending practices “fraudulent.”
Source: Better Business Bureau

Sallie Mae Reviews Reddit

A student recently started a Reddit thread by asking, “Is Sallie Mae best for student loans?”

A person on Reddit asking about others’ to share their Sallie Mae reviews.
Someone on Reddit starts a thread by asking about Sallie Mae’s student loans.
Source: Reddit

One person responded by saying that private student loans should only be a last resort. 

A borrower on Reddit shares their general view on private student loans.
A Redditor calls private student loans a “last, desperate resort.” 
Source: Reddit

Someone else gave a more comprehensive Sallie Mae review, saying it’s easy to get approved, but the interest rates are high. 

A person on Reddit shares their pros and cons in a Sallie Mae review.
Someone on Reddit highlights the pros and cons of getting a student loan from Sallie Mae.
Source: Reddit

Another person said that if you’re going to use Sallie Mae, it’s best to get a fixed interest rate. That way, you avoid paying more even if interest rates increase nationwide.

A fellow student loan borrower gives their Sallie Mae review by recommending fixed-interest rate loans.
A Sallie Mae customer suggests getting a fixed-interest rate loan. 
Source: Reddit

Is Sallie Mae Worth It?

Sallie Mae is definitely worth it for two groups of people:

  1. Students who want a private student loan.
  2. Anyone who wants an online savings account with high yields.

When it comes to student loans, Sallie Mae gives you the chance to borrow the entire cost of your education. And while Sallie Mae doesn’t offer refinancing, it allows you to choose if you want to start repayment as a student or wait until you’ve finished your studies. 

Do you have a cosigner for your student loan? If so, then Sallie Mae is especially appealing. 

According to the bank itself, 87% of undergraduate loans from Sallie Mae are cosigned. There’s a reason for that. Having a cosigner makes it three times more likely that your loan will be accepted.

If there’s a knock against Sallie Mae, it’s that the interest rates are often higher than what you’d see with a federal loan. So if a federal loan is an option, you might want to take it. But if a private student loan is what you’re looking for, then Sallie Mae is definitely worth considering.

But what if you’re not looking for a student loan at all? Does Sallie Mae still have something to offer?

Yes, high-yield savings! Sallie Mae’s interest rates on their online savings accounts are phenomenal – up to 4.50% APY*. 

Is that worth the few minutes it takes to apply online? I certainly think so!

Commonly Asked Questions About Sallie Mae

What are Alternatives to Sallie Mae?

Here are some Sallie Mae alternatives for private student loans:

Is Sallie Mae a Scam?

Sallie Mae definitely isn’t a scam. The interest rates might be higher than what you see with federal student loans, but that’s because private loans are generally more expensive. Sallie Mae is a reputable lender, and it even gets an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau. 

What is The Catch With Sallie Mae? 

The closest thing to a “catch” with Sallie Mae is that the interest rate could increase if you choose a variable-rate loan. Of course, this isn’t some dirty trick. It’s just how a variable-rate loan works! And you can avoid it by choosing a fixed-rate loan, instead.

Sallie Mae Student Loans Review?

I would give Sallie Mae student loans a positive review because it’s relatively easy to qualify for a loan, especially if you use a cosigner. The major drawback is that Sallie Mae doesn’t offer student loan refinancing. Read this article for the top student loan refinance lenders. 

Does Sallie Mae Do a Hard Credit Check? 

Multiple online sources confirm that Sallie Mae does a hard credit check when you apply for a loan. And unfortunately, there’s no way to see your loan options without taking this step. 

Is Sallie Mae Trustworthy? 

Yes, Sallie Mae is trustworthy. It’s a reputable lender with an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau, and its savings accounts are insured by the FDIC. 

Is It Hard to Get a Loan From Sallie Mae? 

Getting a student loan from Sallie Mae is generally considered to be easier than average. That’s partly because they let you apply with a cosigner, which gives you a 3-times greater chance of having your loan application accepted. 

*rates shown are accurate at the time of writing and are subject to change.