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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 now available online for free

You can now 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: Pay interest 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 fees and no prepayment penalties.

Earn rewards for paying on time

  • Get a Smart Reward® in your Upromise® account of 2% of your scheduled monthly payments that are made on time while in school, with the Interest or Fixed Repayment Options.6
  • Get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction while enrolled to make scheduled monthly payments by automatic debit.7

Manage your budget with the Graduated Repayment Period

The Smart Option Student Loan is the only 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 interest rate reduction while enrolled to make scheduled monthly payments by automatic debit.

Loan limits

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


  • No origination fees.

Repayment terms

  • Choose the repayment option that works for you while you are in school4 - defer all payments, pay just $255 a month, or pay only the interest 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.9
  • No prepayment penalty, regardless of the repayment option you choose.


Get Started  


Have questions?

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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
After graduation a borrower may apply for their cosigner to be released from the loan once they have made 12 consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments and meet certain credit requirements.10

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.


Loan Repayment Calculator


Encouraging Responsible Borrowing

Sallie Mae has helped more than 30 million Americans pay for college since 1972. We encourage students and families to supplement their savings by exploring grants, scholarships, 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 attend a participating school or have attended one in an eligible prior enrollment period. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a Non-U.S. citizen borrower who is attending or has attended a school located in the U.S. applying 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 As certified by your school and confirmed by Sallie Mae, less other financial aid received. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than what the school has certified. Requested amounts exceeding $99,999 may require multiple loans.

3 Borrowers and cosigners may receive their FICO® Score quarterly after the first disbursement of their student 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 is not available to Vermont residents and 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 for loans with 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. Any interest that remains unpaid when you enter full repayment will be added to your loan balance.

5 This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms available to a graduate borrower who elects the Fixed Repayment Option and has a $10,000.00 loan with two disbursements and a 6.16% variable APR: 27 payments of $25, 59 payments of $207.17, and one payment of $194.41, for a total paid of $13,092.44. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

6 Primary borrower must enroll in Upromise to be eligible to earn a reward into his or her active Upromise account of 2% of the scheduled loan payment amount for each on-time payment during the in-school and separation periods. Loan payments must remain current to be eligible for the reward. The Smart Reward Benefit and Upromise membership are subject to the terms and conditions of the Upromise service, as may be amended from time to time. Terms and conditions apply to the Upromise service. Participating companies, contribution levels and terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Go to to learn more. Upromise accounts are not FDIC insured, carry no bank guarantee and may lose value.

7 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 borrower's monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during forbearances and certain deferments.

8 Based on a June 6, 2015 review of competitors' loan programs and repayment features.

9 Available for loans that first disburse on or after July 1, 2013 to finance academic periods that begin on or after July 1, 2013 at a degree-granting institution. Graduated Repayment Period (GRP) requires interest payments for the initial 12 month period of repayment when you would normally begin making full principal and interest payments (which typically begins six months after graduation) or during the 12-month period after your request is granted, whichever is later. At the time you request GRP, you must have graduated with no interruption in enrollment, be current on payments, and not be more than 30 days late on payments on any student loan. You may request GRP only during the two billing cycles immediately preceding and the two billing cycles immediately after your loan would normally begin requiring full principal and interest payments. GRP does not extend the term of the loan. If you are approved for GRP, your principal and interest payments will be higher than if GRP did not apply, and your total loan cost will increase.

10 The release of a cosigner is at the sole discretion of Sallie Mae. Only the borrower may apply for cosigner release. The borrower must provide proof of graduation or successful completion of certification program, not be delinquent and have made 12 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest immediately before applying, provide proof of income, pass a credit review that demonstrates a satisfactory credit history and the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) individually, have no student loan(s) in default, must not be reported as 90+ days delinquent in the past 24 months, must not be in hardship forbearance and/or in a modified repayment program, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and meet the age of majority in their state. Requirements are as of October 13, 2014, and are subject to change.

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

Information advertised valid as of 9/25/2015.


Sallie Mae, Smart Option Student Loan, Smart Reward, and the Sallie Mae logo are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank or its subsidiaries.

Upromise and the Upromise logo are registered service marks of Upromise, Inc.