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The Facts About Sallie Mae


We get it. Most people think of us when they think of student loans. In reality, the U.S. Department of Education is far and away the largest student lender. In fact, 92% of the country’s $1.6 trillion of student loans today are federal student loans.

Click here to read Sallie Mae’s response to NBC Nightly News

Sallie Mae is a consumer bank that owns 1.4% of student loans today. We are not Navient or any other company that services or collects loans for the federal government.

Sallie Mae offers private student loans and other financial products. Private loans are credit-based and underwritten, meaning we assess your ability to pay back the loan before we make it.

Our 1,800 employees come to work every day with a singular purpose: to empower families to responsibly pay for college. We help our customers invest in themselves through education, the proven pathway to economic mobility, and build prosperous futures as our country’s next nurses, teachers, lawyers, engineers, business leaders, and more.

Beyond college, we help customers create new goals and make experiences happen with products like private graduate loans, credit cards that reward responsible financial behavior, personal loans, and goal-based savings accounts.

Student Loan Debt Pie Chart: Private 7.71%, Federal 92.29%

A responsible approach

We agree that college should be more affordable. We also believe student loan providers have an obligation to lend responsibly, which is why we assess every applicant’s financial situation, and if they don’t demonstrate the ability to handle the debt, we say no.

Our responsible lending approach works:

  • 98% of our customers successfully manage their loans.
  • Our customers pay off their loans in an average of 7 years.
  • Our undergraduate student loan features a pioneering in-school repayment option, which allows students and families to reduce their overall loan costs and debt.

    98% of our customers are successfully repaying their loans; less than 2% default annually

    We’re proud of our customers’ success


    completed their program of study


    are employed


    agree their work gives them a feeling of personal accomplishment

    Source: Sallie Mae sponsored research among repayment borrowers under age 35; December 2018 and March 2019; all data except the % who completed their program is based on borrowers who have earned at least a bachelor's degree

We make financial literacy a priority

We offer students and families free tools and information to help them plan and pay for college and build good credit.

  • Scholarship Search, our free online scholarship database, connects students to more than 5 million scholarships, worth over $24 billion total.
  • With our College Planning Calculator, students can estimate the full cost of a college degree and see what their future monthly student loan payments might be.
  • We create widely read research reports on how families save, plan and pay for college, and how young adults manage finances.
  • Our award-winning blog features expert tips and insights on paying for college and managing money.

We give back to students, families, and communities

Our Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program helps change the lives of students who have excelled in school but may need financial help to attend college. Since 2016, we’ve awarded $560,000 in Bridging the Dream scholarships to inspiring students.

Our award-winning financial literacy initiatives teach high school students about planning for college and financial literacy. Sallie Mae visits high schools and youth groups across the country, awarding scholarships and paying off student loans. This award-winning, nationwide tour reached more than 10,000 high school students in 2018.

We work with national organizations and states to develop and distribute college planning materials to tens of thousands of students and their families.

We encourage our employees to make a difference by giving them paid time off to volunteer in their communities. We work directly with non-profits like Special Olympics, Junior Achievement, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Since 2014, The Sallie Mae Fund has awarded nearly $2 million in grants to local and national non-profit organizations that address barriers to college access.