Federal vs. private student loan repayment options
When it comes to repaying student loans, there are distinct differences between federal and private student loans.
Federal student loans generally don’t require payments during school and they don't have in-school repayment options. After your grace period, you can generally request a plan (standard, extended, or graduated) to help you adjust the amount of time you have to pay or an income-based repayment plan that bases your payments on your income.
Private student loans can offer both in-school and deferred repayment options. After your separation or grace period, you’ll be required to make principal and interest payments. There may be programs available for budget flexibility, such as the Graduated Repayment Period.footnote 1
To find out the repayment term for your student loans, log in to your Sallie Mae account.
Sallie Mae® private student loan repayment options
Private student loans don’t have the same repayment options as federal loans, and those specific options can differ from lender to lender. We offer several repayment options over the life of your loan.
Payment options while you’re in school
When you apply for a Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan® or a graduate student loan like the Graduate School Loan, MBA Loan, Graduate Loan for Health Professions, Law School Loan, Medical School Loan, or Dental School Loan, you can choose one of three in-school repayment optionsfootnote 2:
- Deferred repayment—Make no scheduled loan payments while you’re in school and during your separation or grace period.
- Fixed repayment—Pay a fixed amount every month you're in school and during your separation or grace period.
- Interest repayment—Only pay the interest every month you’re in school and during your separation or grace period.
Keep in mind that the Medical Residency and Relocation, Dental Residency and Relocation, and Bar Study loans are designed to cover post-graduate school expenses, so deferred repayment is the only in-school repayment option available.
When it comes time to repay your student loan, you may have some options. Keep in mind that repayment programs may increase your Total Loan Cost, so we recommend checking with your cosigner first (if you have one) to see if they can help with your payments.
In-School Payment Assistance lets you temporarily postpone your payments while in school and can help you avoid delinquency if you're struggling.
The Graduated Repayment Period (GRP) lets you make interest-only payments for 12 months after your separation period (time after school). The GRP doesn’t extend the loan term and you can request the program during the 6 months before and the 12 months immediately after you begin principal and interest payments.footnote 1 Learn more about the GRP.
Forbearance lets you temporarily postpone your payments if you’re having trouble and can help you avoid delinquency and default. Learn more about facing financial difficulties.
Options for our delinquent customers
Your eligibility for any of the following options depends on a review of your financial situation, so please call us at 800-472-5543 to talk with an account manager who’ll review your available repayment options.
- Rate Reduction lowers your loan’s interest rate and monthly payment for a limited time.
- Term and Rate Modification can lower your loan’s interest rate and monthly payment for a limited time while also extending the term of your loan.
- Payment Extension allows you to bring your loan current by making payments that are equal to or greater than the Current Amount Due for three consecutive months.
- Reduced Payment Plan allows you to make six months of interest-only payments.
Defer your student loans when you go back to school at least half-time or are selected for a program. With a deferment, you can reduce or postpone payments when you go back to school or begin an internship, clerkship, fellowship, or residency.footnote 3 Learn more about deferring loans while in graduate school.
Deferment or forbearance during military service may be able to postpone payments on your student loans during military service. For more information and eligibility requirements, please chat with us or call 855-534-2668.
Disability or death
If the student becomes totally and permanently disabled or passes away, we’ll waive the Current Balance. Learn more here.