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 When you enroll, your payments are automatically withdrawn from your authorized bank account each month.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.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.2

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


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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, if available for the loan. 
2. Available for loans used to pay qualified higher education expenses at a degree-granting institution. The Graduated Repayment Period (GRP) allows interest-only payments for 12 billing periods after principal and interest repayment begins. At the time of the GRP request, the loan cannot be past due. Customers can request the GRP during the six billing periods before and the 12 billing periods immediately after the loan first enters principal and interest repayment. The GRP does not extend the loan term but does increase the Total Loan Cost. Monthly payments after the GRP will be higher than they would have been without it.