Avenue College Vs. Sallie Mae Student Loans

College Ave and Sallie Mae are two popular companies that offer a wide range of private student loans. Both companies have loans suitable for a variety of disciplines, from undergraduate studies to medical school and law school. College Ave offers a range of repayment options, as well as some of the lowest starting rates in the industry. Sallie Mae, on the other hand, offers many online resources for current and future students.

The right choice for you depends on your student loan priorities, as well as which lender offers you the best rates. It’s always a good idea to get quotes from several companies before making your decision.

Take away key

College Ave is best if you’re looking for customizable reimbursement, while Sallie Mae is a good option for students taking only a few classes at a time or those who want access to additional resources.

Sallie Mae vs. College Ave

Sally Mae College Avenue
Interest rate 2% to 12.35% variable, 3.75% to 13.72% fixed (with automatic payment) 0.94% to 12.99% variable, 3.39% to 13.95% fixed (with automatic payment)
Repayment Terms 10 to 20 years 5 to 20 years
Loan amounts $1,000 for the total cost of participation $1,000 towards the total cost of participation ($150,000 maximum for certain diplomas)
Advantages Scholarship search tool; four months of free access to a Chegg study pack; loans for students who study less than half time Extended deferment during fellowship or residency; four school reimbursement options; Low minimum APR
Disadvantages Poor customer reviews; high rate caps; few repayment term options Poor customer reviews; $150,000 loan limit for certain graduate degrees; few eligibility criteria disclosed

Details accurate as of July 12, 2022

Sallie Mae Student Loans: Pros and Cons

Sallie Mae is one of the most recognized names in the student loan world. Even so, there are pros and cons about the company that are worth considering before signing up.


  • Options for part-time students: Many student lenders require students to be enrolled at least half-time, but Sallie Mae is expanding the pool to include students enrolled less than half-time, taking professional certification courses or studying abroad.
  • Online resources: Sallie Mae’s website includes scholarship directories, financial planning tips, and calculators. Other lenders – including College Ave – offer support on their websites, but Sallie Mae is a step above the rest.
  • Long deferment and grace periods: Most Sallie Mae graduate loans come with generous deferment options after you graduate. With its law school loans, for example, students can enjoy a nine-month grace period, 12 interest-only payments after the grace period, and 48 months of deferment during an internship.

The inconvenients

  • Bad customer feedback: Sallie Mae has poor customer reviews on both the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot, so it’s clear that some customers have had negative experiences with the lender.
  • Several fees: While you can avoid many fees by making timely payments on your Sallie Mae loan, a late payment will cost you 5% or $25, and a returned check will cost you $20.
  • Limited repayment term options: Undergraduate students have repayment terms of only 10 to 15 years, and graduate students have only one repayment term option. For medical and dental faculties, the duration is 20 years, and for business, law and general graduate schools, the duration is 15 years. That’s a lot less flexibility than what other lenders offer.

College Ave Student Loans: Pros and Cons

College Ave loans are quite customizable, although there are some downsides, especially for graduate students.


  • Four reimbursement options at school: Students with a College Ave loan can choose from one of four repayment options while in school: payment in full of principal and interest, payment of interest only, fixed payments of $25, or fully deferred payments. This range of options can help students avoid interest capitalization and pay off their loans faster.
  • Wide range of repayment terms: Undergraduate students can choose from four repayment options, while some graduate students can choose from five. This allows students to customize their loan repayment and find a monthly payment that works for them.
  • Quick app: College Ave says its initial loan application only takes three minutes. The prequalification form is intuitive, automatically pulling the cost of attending your school and providing estimated budgets for things like books and supplies.

The inconvenients

  • Former dissatisfied customers: College Ave has poor customer reviews on the Better Bureau and Trustpilot, indicating that borrowers have experienced issues with the company’s handling of their loans.
  • Does not disclose eligibility requirements: While student loan companies are often reluctant to share full details about their eligibility requirements, College Ave is rarely protected about who is eligible for its student loans.
  • Loan limits for certain graduate degrees: Many student lenders allow students to borrow up to the full cost of attending their school. However, College Ave sets a $150,000 loan limit for dental schools, law schools, medical schools, and trade schools.

Which is better: Sallie Mae or College Ave?

Sallie Mae and College Ave share some common characteristics: the same minimum loan amount, similar interest rates and fairly generous grace periods. Both are valid options, though your decision may come down to which features you find most important.

If you’re looking for flexibility with your student loans, College Ave is probably a better choice. Multiple repayment options mean you can tinker with your loans to find the right repayment schedule for you, both while in school and after you graduate. It’s also a digital lender, with a quick application process and dozens of educational articles.

Sallie Mae, on the other hand, might be the best choice if you want more of a well-rounded student loan provider. Its loans aren’t as flexible as College Ave’s, but it does provide resources for students to find scholarships, plan for college, and get education help. It also gives students the ability to defer student loans during internships, externships, and more.

It’s a good idea to get quotes from both companies before applying, even if you think you’ve made up your mind. Eligibility requirements vary by lender, so Sallie Mae might end up giving you a much cheaper loan than College Ave, or vice versa. Once you have offers from both companies side by side, you can make a more informed decision on which one is best for you.

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