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 do not require payments during school but they don't have in-school repayment options. After your grace period, you can generally request one of several types of plans. Standard, extended, and graduated plans can help you adjust the amount of time you have to pay, while income-based repayment plans can help base your payments on income.
Private student loans can offer both in-school and deferred repayment options. After your separation or grace period, you will be required to make principal and interest payments. There may be programs available for budget flexibility, such as the Graduated Repayment Period.
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 a number of 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 options:
- 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—Pay interest every month you’re in school and during your separation or grace period.
Because the Medical Residency and Relocation, Dental Residency and Relocation, and Bar Study loans are designed to cover post-graduate school expenses, deferred repayment is the only in-school repayment option available.
In-School Payment Assistance
In-School Payment Assistance lets you temporarily postpone your in-school repayment option. It can also help you avoid delinquency if you're facing temporary financial difficulty. Since it may increase your Total Loan Cost, you should first see if your cosigner (if you have one), a family member, or friend can help you with your payments for a short time.
Repayment programs after you leave school
Once you’ve left school and are past your separation or grace period, you’ll make principal and interest payments for the remainder of your repayment term. If your circumstances change, we have programs to help you manage your loan repayment:
- Graduated Repayment Period.
- Deferment if you attend undergraduate or graduate school or are in an internship/clerkship/fellowship/residency program.
- Deferment or forbearance during military service.
- Forbearance, if you’re having trouble paying your loans.
The Graduated Repayment Period
This benefit, specifically created for our loans, gives you time to transition after school before you have to make principal and interest payments.
- You can make interest-only payments for a year after your separation period.
- You can use it for Smart Option Student Loans or any of our graduate loans.
- You can apply for the benefit as early as six billing periods before and no later than the 12th billing period immediately after you begin principal and interest payments.
Deferring your student loans when you return to school at least half-time or are selected for a program
With a deferment, you can reduce or postpone payments while you resume undergraduate studies, attend graduate school, or begin an internship, clerkship, fellowship, or residency.
Deferment or forbearance during military service
You may be able to postpone payments on your student loans during military service. For more information and eligibility requirements, please chat or call us at 855-534-2668.
Forbearance, if you’re having trouble paying your student loans
Forbearance lets you temporarily postpone your student loan payments. It can help you avoid delinquency and default if you're facing temporary financial difficulty. Since it may increase your Total Loan Cost, you should first see if your cosigner (if you have one), a family member, or friend can help you with your student loan payments for a short time.
We’re committed to working with you if you’re having financial difficulties. Call us at 800-472-5543 when you realize that you and your cosigner (if you have one) can’t make your payments. We can discuss options to help you.
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 and talk with an account manager who will review the repayment options available to you.
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.
3Pay allows you to bring your loan current. You must make payments that are equal to or greater than the Current Amount Due for three consecutive months.
Disability or death
If a serious event occurs or to find out how we can help you manage your student loans when your circumstances change, chat with us or call 800-472-5543.
Disability or death – if the student becomes totally and permanently disabled or passes away, we’ll waive the Current Balance of the loan (less any refund provided by the school). Learn more here.