Get ready for principal and interest payments

Use your separation or grace period to organize and understand the next stage of your student loan payments.

What is a separation or grace period?

Often six months, a student loan separation or grace period is the time between when a student leaves school and principal and interest payments begin. During your separation or grace period, you’ll continue making the same payments, if any, you made in school.

  • If you made in-school payments (say, a fixed monthly payment of $25), you’ll continue to make those payments during the separation period.
  • If you deferred your payments while you were in school, you won’t have payments during the separation or grace period.

After your separation or grace period, you’ll begin making principal and interest payments. If you want to lower your Total Loan Cost, you can pay more than the Current Amount Due or make extra payments.

If you aren’t sure if your Sallie Mae student loan has a separation or grace period, you can review your loan documents by logging in to your account and heading to the Statements & Documents page. You can also chat with us by clicking on the blue icon in the lower right-hand corner of this page.

While you wait for principal and interest payments to begin, there are few things you can do to get ready.

Get organized
By the time you leave college, you might have a combination of federal and private loans. Make sure you understand how many loans you have, what types of loans they are, their interest rates, and who the lenders are. Creating a simple spreadsheet can help you organize your loans.

Understand what your payments will be
Our How America Pays for College 2021 study shows that many undergraduate students are not aware of what their future loan payments will be. We can help you estimate your student loan payments.

Choose how to make loan payments
We offer several ways to make your loan payments. Auto debit is the most convenient way. When you enroll, your payments are automatically withdrawn from your authorized bank account each month. Plus, enrolling in auto debit may also qualify you for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction.footnote 1

Consider the Graduated Repayment Period
The Graduated Repayment Period (GRP) is available for loans used to pay qualified higher education expenses at a degree-granting institution and gives you time to transition from school to career by making interest-only payments for a year after your loan enters principal and interest repayment.footnote 2

Take a look at some more advice
Our repayment tips can help you stay organized—and save time and money!

Related topics

footnote 1. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. 

footnote 2. 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 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. The borrower may request GRP only during the six billing periods immediately preceding and the twelve 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 ends will be higher than it otherwise would have been without GRP, and the total loan cost will increase.