- A Sallie Mae® Parent Loan can be taken out by any creditworthy adult who wants to finance the education of an eligible student.
- These loans come with fixed or variable interest rates, 10-year terms, and offer up 48 months of interest-only payments while the student is enrolled in school.
- There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties, and 100% of a student’s qualifying education expenses can be covered by the loan.
Although it was originally founded as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), Sallie Mae® has been fully privatized since 2004. In 2014, it separated from Navient, its federal servicing branch. Since then, it has had no involvement in servicing loans for the federal government.
As a private bank, Sallie Mae® provides private student loans and other financial products like savings accounts, personal loans and credit cards. Its private student loan options include undergraduate, graduate, career training, parent and K-12 loans.
The Sallie Mae® Parent Loan program is open to any adult with strong credit who wants to finance a student’s education. Use this guide to understand more about the Sallie Mae® Parent Loan, including its eligibility requirements, terms and benefits.
Sallie Mae® Parent Loan — what you need to know
Sallie Mae® Parent Loans can be used to help a variety of students and offer payment flexibility for the borrower. Here’s a quick snapshot of the loan program’s key terms and conditions:
Interest Rate Type
Fixed and variable
Minimum of $1,000 and up to the cost of attendance
Yes, up to 12 months over the life of the loan (authorized in three-month increments)
In-School Modified Payments
Interest-only payments for up to 48 months
Graduated Repayment Period (GRP)
Eligible Degree Programs
Yes, iOS and Android
In-House Customer Service
Unlike many federal student loans, your eligibility for private loans and the interest rates you receive will depend on your credit score. Qualifying for Sallie Mae® private loans is based on the applicant’s credit, but the company doesn’t publicly disclose its credit score minimum.
Although these loans are called “Parent” loans, any creditworthy adult can be the primary borrower. Guardians, spouses, extended relatives or even friends can qualify for a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan.
One benefit of Sallie Mae®’s private student loans is that you can borrow to finance a part-time student’s education. With most federal student loans, the student must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for loan disbursement.
Parents of undergraduate students can also consider cosigning a Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan®. A Parent Loan is your only Sallie Mae® loan option, however, if the student is pursuing a graduate degree.
With a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan, you can borrow up to a student’s total cost of attendance minus any financial aid received. In addition to tuition, the funds can be used for other certified education expenses like fees, books, housing, meals and equipment.
Most federal Direct Loans come with strict annual and lifetime borrowing limits. A Sallie Mae® Parent Loan can help bridge funding gaps for students who’ve maxed out their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loan options. It should be noted, however, that Parent PLUS loans also allow for borrowing up to the full cost of attendance.
Loan terms and payment options
The Sallie Mae® Parent Loans only come with 10-year repayment terms, making them less flexible than Sallie Mae®’s Smart Option Student Loan® for Undergraduate Students, which offer a variety of terms ranging from five to 15 years.
After your loan is disbursed, you’ll have the option of making interest-only payments for up to 48 months while the student is enrolled in school. You can reduce the overall cost of your loan and pay it off faster by making principal and interest payments right from the start.
Sallie Mae® doesn’t offer in-school deferment on its Parent Loan product. However, if you’re struggling to make a payment, you can apply for forbearance. Forbearances are authorized up to three months at a time for a lifetime maximum of 12 months.
Sallie Mae® doesn’t charge any application or origination fees on its Parent Loans. This gives it an advantage over Parent PLUS loans, which currently charge a loan disbursement fee.
There are also no prepayment penalties if you decide to pay off your balance early; however, Salle Mae® charges a late fee on the past-due amount up to a maximum of $25 and a returned check fee of up to $20.
Interest rates and discounts
Although federal Parent PLUS loans only come with fixed interest rates, Sallie Mae®’s Parent Plus loans offer both fixed and variable-interest rate types.
Variable-rate loans often offer lower starting rates so they could be worth considering if you intend to pay off your loan balance quickly. But if you plan to follow the full 10-year repayment plan, locking in your rate may be the wise choice. Learn more about how to choose between variable versus fixed-rate loan types.
All Sallie Mae® student loans offer a rate discount to borrowers who enroll in autodebit for their monthly payments.
Another benefit of taking out a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan is that it could make it easier to secure financing for future academic years. Sallie Mae® says that returning undergraduate, graduate, and cosigner customers have an approval rate of over 90%.
Finally, Sallie Mae® offers its loan customers free quarterly access to their FICO scores. The company uses FICO® Score 8, and your score is based on TransUnion data.
How to apply for a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan
- Permanent address.
- Social Security numbers (yours and the student’s)
- School and enrollment information
- Loan amount requested and additional financial aid expected
- Your employment information
- Financial information (list of assets and debts)
The application is divided into three sections: basic information, loan information and results.
In addition to your own personal information, you’ll also need to provide the student’s name, Social Security number and school information.
Once your personal information has been provided, you can fill out the details of your loan request and submit it for approval. Sallie Mae® is often able to give immediate credit results, but in some cases, a credit specialist may reach out to ask for more information.
If you need assistance with your application, you can call 1-877-279-7172. The customer service hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (ET), and Friday, 8 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (ET).
Should you take out a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan?
Like all private student loans, the Sallie Mae® Parent Loan can’t match all of the benefits of Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. For example, Sallie Mae® Parent Loan borrowers aren’t eligible for Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) or for federal forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
However, Parent PLUS loan borrowers can’t take advantage of IDR or PSLF either unless the loans are first consolidated in a Direct Consolidation Loan. Also, PLUS loans have the highest interest rates of all Direct federal loans and charge a hefty loan disbursement fee.
For these reasons, a Sallie Mae® Parent Loan could be a viable alternative to a Parent PLUS loan. But Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans are still the most affordable student loan choice when available. Compare all the best private student loan companies before selecting the one that is right for your circumstances.