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Smart Option Student Loan® for Graduate Students

For Degree-Granting Institutions For Degree-Granting Institutions


An alternative to the PLUS Loan for graduate students

Variable and fixed loan interest rates with APRs that can be lower than the PLUS Loan for highly qualified graduate students.1See how they compare

Quarterly FICO® Credit Scores are available online for free

You can view your quarterly FICO® Score by logging into your Sallie Mae® account. You'll also receive access to the key factor(s) affecting your score and educational content to help you understand why viewing your FICO® Score is important. This free benefit is available to both borrowers and cosigners.

Choice and savings

  • Interest Repayment Option: Make monthly interest payments while in school and benefit from lower rates.
  • Fixed Repayment Option: Pay just $25 a month while in school.
  • Deferred Repayment Option: Make no payments during school - or pay as much as you'd like with no penalty - for maximum budget flexibility.

Competitive variable and fixed interest rates

  • No origination fee and no prepayment penalties.

Lower your interest rate

  • Choose the Interest Repayment Option and receive a rate that is 0.50 percentage points lower than the Deferred Repayment Option.4
  • Get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction while enrolled to make scheduled monthly payments by automatic debit.6

Manage your budget with the Graduated Repayment Period

The Smart Option Student Loan is the first nationwide private student loan offering a Graduated Repayment Period feature, providing budget flexibility for graduating students. Students who graduate and maintain their Sallie Mae loans in good standing can request to make 12 interest-only payments instead of full principal and interest payments after their separation period.

Interest rates

  • Variable interest rates from % APR to % APR.
  • Fixed interest rates from % APR to % APR.
  • 0.25 percentage point(s) interest rate reduction while enrolled to make scheduled monthly payments by automatic debit.

Loan limits

  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance.


  • No origination fee.

Repayment terms

  • Choose the repayment option that works for you while you are in school4 - defer all payments, pay just $255 a month, or make monthly interest payments on your loan.
  • Full principal and interest payments begin six months after you leave school for all repayment options. With our Graduated Repayment Period feature, graduate students who maintain their Sallie Mae Loans in good standing can request to make 12 interest-only payments instead of full principal and interest payments after their separation period.8
  • No prepayment penalty, regardless of the repayment option you choose.


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A cosigner can really pay off

A cosigner can help you qualify
Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may give you a better chance of approval.

Cosigner release available
You may apply to release your cosigner from the loan after you graduate, make 12 on-time principal and interest payments and meet certain credit requirements.9

Learn more

Weighing your options

It's important to explore your options. Click here to learn about the differences between the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan® and the PLUS Loan for Graduates.

Before you borrow—here’s what you need to know

Understand your options


Loan Repayment Calculator


Encouraging Responsible Borrowing

Sallie Mae has helped more than 34 million Americans pay for college since 1972. We encourage students and families to supplement their savings by exploring grants, scholarships, and federal and state student loans, and to consider the anticipated monthly payments on their total student loan debt and their expected future earnings before considering a private education loan.

This information is for borrowers attending degree-granting institutions only. You must be attending or have attended a participating school located in the U.S. during an eligible prior enrollment period. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a Non-U.S. citizen borrower with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and required U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) documentation. U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in eligible study abroad programs or who are attending or have attended schools located outside the U.S. are also eligible. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1,000. Current credit and other eligibility criteria apply.

1 Explore federal loans and compare to ensure you understand the terms and features. Smart Option Student Loans that have variable rates can go up after consummation. Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness and deferment benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal loans generally have origination fees, but are available to students regardless of income.

2 Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school certified amount.

3 Borrowers and cosigners may receive their FICO® Score quarterly after the first disbursement of their loan. FICO® Scores are delivered only to borrowers and cosigners who have an available score, are based on data from TransUnion, and may be different from other credit scores. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO® is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

4 Interest rates for the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. Graduate student pricing on the Smart Option Student Loan is limited to students enrolling in a Masters/Doctorate level degree program. Graduate Certificate/Continuing Education course work is not eligible for graduate student pricing. Variable rates may increase after consummation. Interest is charged while you are in school and during the 6-month separation period. Unpaid Interest will be added to the Current Principal when you enter principal and interest repayment.

5 This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms available to a first-year graduate borrower who elects the Fixed Repayment Option and has a $10,000.00 loan with two disbursements and a 6.52% variable APR: 27 payments of $25, 59 payments $210.61 and one payment of $196.73, for a Total Loan Cost of $13,297.72. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

6 Either the borrower or cosigner (not both) must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The rate reduction benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due is successfully deducted from the designated bank account each month and is suspended during forbearances and certain deferments.

7 Based on a July 15, 2016 review of competitors' loan programs and repayment features.

8 Available for loans made to students attending a degree-granting institution. Graduated Repayment Period (GRP) allows interest-only payments for the initial 12-month period of repayment when the loan would normally begin requiring full principal and interest payments (which typically begins six months after graduation) or during the 12-month period after GRP request is granted, whichever is later. At the time of GRP request, the loan must be current and the borrower must have graduated with no interruption in enrollment and not be more than 30 days delinquent on any student loan. The borrower may request GRP only during the two billing periods immediately preceding and the two billing periods immediately after the loan would normally begin requiring full principal and interest payments. GRP does not extend the loan term. If approved for GRP, the Current Amount Due that is required to be paid each month after the GRP will be higher than it otherwise would have been without GRP, and the Total Loan Cost will increase.

9 Only the borrower may apply for cosigner release. Borrowers who meet the age of majority in their state may apply for cosigner release by providing proof of graduation (or completion of certification program), income, and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (if your status has changed since you applied). In the last 12 months, the borrower must be current on all Sallie Mae serviced loans (including no hardship forbearances or modified repayment programs) and have paid ahead or made 12 on-time principal and interest payments on each loan requested for release. When the cosigner release application is processed, the borrower must demonstrate the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) individually, and pass a credit review that demonstrates a satisfactory credit history including but not limited to no: open bankruptcy, open foreclosure, student loan(s) in default or 90 day delinquencies in the last 24 months. Requirements are subject to change.

Smart Option Student Loans are made by Sallie Mae Bank or a lender partner.

Information advertised valid as of .