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Our free college planning resources may help you find more ways to pay for college. Your school's financial aid office may also be able to help.

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Features that can help you make college happen



of all your school-certified undergraduate student loan expenses


origination fee

and no penalty for paying ahead


percentage point interest rate reduction

when you enroll in and make payments by auto debit


added value—4 months of free study support

with Study StarterSM

Choose a fixed or variable undergraduate student loan interest rate

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount

Fixed rates:   
5.49% - 11.85% APR

Get predictable undergraduate student loan monthly payments with an interest rate that doesn't change over time.

You may pay more for your total student loan cost because a fixed interest rate is usually higher than a starting variable interest rate.

Variable rates:   
4.25% - 11.35% APR

Your undergraduate student loan interest rate may be less than a fixed interest rate, which could result in a lower total student loan cost.

Your student loan interest rate can rise or fall as the market index changes, so your undergraduate student loan payments may vary over time.

Choosing which is better for you, a variable or a fixed interest rate

Deciding between a variable or a fixed interest rate is a personal choice. It’s important to review the benefits and considerations of each. When you apply, you’ll see how much your payments may be with each interest rate type, which can help you choose.

Why there is a range of interest rates

Unlike a federal loan, a private student loan is credit-based. We look at your creditworthiness and your cosigner’s, if you apply with one. With this information, along with other factors, we determine the rate that you’ll be offered within the range.

Pay it back now or later

Deferred repayment option

In school In grace After school No payments  Principal & interest 

Make no scheduled student loan payments while you're in school and in grace (six months after leaving school).

With this undergraduate student loan repayment option, you’ll likely pay more for your total loan cost, since the interest rate may be higher and unpaid interest will be added to your principal amount at the end of your grace period.

Fixed repayment option

In school In grace After school $25 a month Principal & interest 

Pay $25 every month you're in school and in grace. Freshman students may save 14% on their total loan cost by choosing the fixed repayment option instead of the deferred repayment option.

While your total loan cost will be less than with our deferred repayment option, unpaid interest will be added to your principal amount at the end of your grace period.

Interest repayment option

In school In grace After school Pay interest monthly  Principal & interest 

Pay interest every month you're in school and in grace. Your interest rate will be typically 1 percentage point lower than with our deferred repayment option. Freshman students may save 29% on their total loan cost by choosing the interest repayment option instead of the deferred repayment option.

Your undergraduate student loan payments will likely be larger while you're in school and in grace, but your total loan cost will likely be lower than with the other repayment options.

How repayment options affect your loan

Choosing the repayment option that’s best for you

If you prefer to hold off making payments until you leave school (and are willing to pay more over the life of your private student loan), consider the deferred option. If you can make payments while you’re in school, the fixed or interest repayment options may be a good choice for you—either one will generally lower your total loan cost vs the deferred option.

During the application process, you’ll see a comparison of the estimated monthly payments and total loan cost for each option, which should help you choose the best one for your needs.

How much should you borrow for your undergraduate student loan

If you’re unsure about the amount you should borrow, start with your school’s cost of attendance and subtract your savings, scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal loans. What’s left, your “gap,” is the amount of money that you still need for college. Borrow only what you can afford to pay back, given your estimated starting monthly salary after you graduate.

Learn more about how much to borrow

Benefit from these Smart Option Student Loan features

Lower your interest rate: Undergraduate students who choose to make monthly interest payments while in school receive a rate that is typically 1 percentage point lower than those who choose to defer making payments.

Track your credit health with quarterly FICO® Credit Scores, available online for free to you and your cosigner.

Request to make 12 monthly interest-only payments after you finish school.

Cover an existing balance for an enrollment period within the past 365 days.

How others can help you make college happen

A cosigner may help you qualify

You may have a better chance of approval if a parent, relative, or other creditworthy individual cosigns your loan.

Consider a cosigner

Parents can choose how to help you

Parents have options—learn about the differences between our Smart Option Student Loan and the Federal PLUS Loan for Parents.

Compare loan options for parents

[At my job] we’re commercializing new energy technology. I come to work excited every day, forever thankful for the student loans that enabled me to pursue my passion.

Nicholas F., customer

Applying online is easy

is about all it takes to apply and get
a credit result.

of customers would recommend our online loan application process.

Source: Sallie Mae online loan application surveys, July 2016 – June 2017.

Questions? Need help applying?

Call us at 877-279-7172

Didn’t find what you were looking for? See all private student loans.

Borrow responsibly
We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.

This information is for undergraduate students attending participating degree-granting schools. Borrowers must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents if the school is located outside of the United States. Non-U.S. citizen borrowers who reside in the U.S. are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident) and are required to provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID to verify identity. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1,000. Current credit and other eligibility criteria apply.

Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount.

Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: First to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The rate reduction 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. This benefit may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with loans that first disburse between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans.

  This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.88% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $162.06 and one payment of $120.23, for a Total Loan Cost of $20,680.37.

Savings comparison assumes a freshman student with no other Sallie Mae loans receives a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate as of November 2018.

Borrowers and cosigners who have an available FICO® Score and a Sallie Mae loan with a current balance greater than $0, may receive their score quarterly after the first disbursement of their loan. The FICO® Score provided to you is the FICO® Score 8 based on TransUnion data, and is the same score that Sallie Mae uses, along with other information, to manage your account. FICO® Scores and associated educational content are provided solely for your own non-commercial personal review, use and benefit. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO® is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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

No more than 365 days can pass from the loan period end date to the application date of the loan. No more than 395 days can pass from the loan period end date to the disbursement of the loan. At the time of request, the student must be enrolled, intending to enroll, or have graduated. The student must have been enrolled during the prior enrollment period for which the loan is requested and must not have withdrawn with no intention of re-enrolling, as verified by the school.

Information advertised valid as of 2/25/2019.