With a Smart Option Student Loan,
you have control over your future

Smiling young African American male student studying
Convenient
Focus on college, not how to pay for it
  • Save time—apply once and get money for the whole year.
  • Apply again each year—undergraduate students have a 96% approval rate when they return to Sallie Mae® with a cosigner.2
Hands typing on laptop
Comprehensive
We've got you covered
  • We’ll work with you to help you get the money you need to pay for undergraduate costs—bigger ones like tuition and housing, and smaller ones like books and a laptop.3
  • Get 4 free months of Chegg® to help you succeed in your classes.4
Student taking notes in class
Customized
Repay in a way that meets your needs and save
  • Get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction when you pay by auto debit from your bank account.5 Lower your interest rate when you choose in-school repayment.
  • No prepayment penalty or origination fees. You can pay off your undergraduate student loan as early as you’d like to reduce your total loan cost.6

We understand you have questions

Let’s get you answers! Here’s a crash course on loans for undergraduate students, budgeting, and financial literacy.

Consider other choices before 
private student loans

Before applying for a private undergraduate loan like our Smart Option Student Loan, students and families should look at savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Then, choose the most affordable options for college funding.

Find the type of interest rate that’s
best for you

Your interest rate is the amount you’re charged for borrowing money. It’s based on factors like your borrowing/repayment history, how long you’ve had credit, and your amount of debt.

With a Smart Option Student Loan for undergraduate students, you can choose an interest rate type that’s variable or fixed.

Variable Rates
3.37% - 13.72% APR7

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount.

How it works

Your interest rate may go up or down as the loan’s index changes.

For more information about the index of your loan, refer to your promissory note. Changes in the financial markets may cause the index to rise or fall.

This might be right for you if
You’re ok with more uncertainty in exchange for a potentially lower total loan cost than with a fixed rate.

Keep in mind
Your payments may vary over time. If you’re looking for a predictable monthly payment, a variable rate might not be for you.

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount.

How it works

Your interest rate may go up or down as the loan’s index changes.

For more information about the index of your loan, refer to your promissory note. Changes in the financial markets may cause the index to rise or fall.

This might be right for you if
You’re ok with more uncertainty in exchange for a potentially lower total loan cost than with a fixed rate.

Keep in mind
Your payments may vary over time. If you’re looking for a predictable monthly payment, a variable rate might not be for you.

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Fixed Rates
3.75% - 13.72% APR7

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount.

How it works
Your interest rate does not change over time.

This might be right for you if
You want a predictable monthly payment to make budgeting easier.

Keep in mind
You may pay more for your undergrad loan because a fixed rate may be higher than a starting variable interest rate.

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount.

How it works
Your interest rate does not change over time.

This might be right for you if
You want a predictable monthly payment to make budgeting easier.

Keep in mind
You may pay more for your undergrad loan because a fixed rate may be higher than a starting variable interest rate.

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What are your repayment options?

You can start paying back your undergraduate loan while you’re in school to save money or wait until you’re finished. You can also choose to pay off your loan early to reduce the total loan cost—there are no penalties for early repayment.6

Pay more during school, save more
Repayment graph showing Interest compiled and loan amount

How the interest repayment option works:

You pay your monthly interest while in school and during your 6-month grace period to lower your loan cost.7 For example, as a freshman you may save 12%8 on the total loan cost if you choose this option instead of paying everything after school.


Your grace period is the amount of time after you’re no longer enrolled in school and before principal and interest payments begin.
 

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This may be right for you if

You want to reduce your total loan cost as much as possible and can afford to pay more each month.

Keep in mind 
Your undergraduate student loan payments will likely be larger while you’re in school and in your grace period than with our fixed or deferred options.

Pay some during school, save some
Repayment example graph showing interest compiled and loan amount

How the fixed repayment option works:

You pay $25 a month9 while in school and during your 6-month grace period to lower your loan cost.7  For example, as a freshman you may save as much as 6%8 on the total loan cost if you choose this option instead of paying everything after school.

Your grace period is the amount of time after you’re no longer enrolled in school and before principal and interest payments begin.

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This may be right for you if

You want to reduce your total loan cost and can afford to pay $259 every month.

Keep in mind 
Your total loan cost will be less than with our deferred option, but the unpaid interest will be added to your principal amount at the end of your grace period.

Pay everything after you finish school
Repayment graph showing overall loan cost with interest compiled and loan amount

How the deferred repayment option works:

You don’t make your first payment until both your time at school and 6-month grace period have ended.7

Your grace period is the amount of time after you’re no longer enrolled in school and before principal and interest payments begin.



 

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This may be right for you if

You want to have as much money available to you while you’re in school.

Keep in mind 
You’re likely to pay more for the total cost of the loan compared to the other repayment options.

How a cosigner can help you
get the money you need for school

Since most students have little or no credit history, they were 4X more likely to be approved with a cosigner!10 87% of our approved undergraduate borrowers had cosigners,11 usually a parent, relative, or other responsible adult, and it may help you get a better interest rate.

Joanne explains the benefits of applying for a private student with a cosigner

How to apply

It’s easy, just follow these steps:

  • Tell us about yourself

    We’ll need some basic information from you (and your cosigner if you’re applying with one) like your name, address, and date of birth, along with some details about your school.

  • Choose your loan option(s)

    After you’re approved, pick the repayment option and interest rate type that work best for your budget.

  • Sign & accept

    Be sure to review all loan documents so you understand your responsibilities. Once you’ve decided to borrow from us, just e-sign and accept your loan. We'll work with your school to take care of the rest. That's it!

Young man sitting on his bed and typing on his laptop

FAQs on undergraduate student loans

Private student loans are credit-based, which means we will check your credit when you submit your application. Students were 4X more likely to be approved with a cosigner.10 A cosigner is an adult with good credit, usually a parent, who shares responsibility with you for paying back the undergraduate student loan.

You can apply just once a year with a single credit check and funds are sent for each term directly to your school. You can cancel future disbursements as needed with no penalty. No interest is charged until money is sent to your school, so you can relax, knowing you've got the funds when you need them.

It takes about 10 minutes to apply and get a credit decision. After you’re approved, you choose your undergraduate loan rate type and repayment options, accept your loan disclosure, and the loan is certified by your school. We send (disburse) the funds directly to the school. The process can take 10 business days or less from application to disbursement.

Whether you study online or on campus, you can borrow to cover the costs at a degree-granting institution, even if you're not a full- or half-time student. The loan's flexibility makes it a good choice for many situations:

  • Attending school full-time, half-time, or less than half-time
  • Online or on-campus classes
  • Winter or summer classes
  • Study abroad
  • Professional certification courses
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident enrolled in a school in a foreign country
  • Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, including DACA students, residing in and attending school in the U.S. (with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident)

With the Smart Option Student Loan, you can select from three repayment options. While in school, you can choose to make monthly interest payments or fixed $25 payments,9—or you can choose to defer payments until after school.9 The repayment option you choose applies during school and for six months after you leave school (your grace period). After that, you begin to make principal and interest payments.

When you apply, we look at your history of borrowing money and paying it back on time. Lenders want to know how responsible you are with credit before approving your student loan application.

Many college-bound high school students haven’t had time to build up their own credit. That’s why they apply with a cosigner, a creditworthy adult who shares the responsibility of the student loan.

You and your cosigner will want to have your social security number, school information, amount needed (remember, you can use it to pay for school-certified expenses for the entire year) as well as your financial and employment information. You or your cosigner may start the application, however, should your cosigner not be with you, we can send along an email with a link to their section of the application so they can fill it in later.

Get in touch!

Need assistance? We’re here to help. 

Still not sure what you need?

See all the different student loans we offer.

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.

Sallie Mae loans are subject to credit approval, identity verification, signed loan documents, and school certification. This loan is available to students at participating schools and is not intended for students pursuing a graduate degree. Student or cosigner must meet the age of majority in their state of residence. Students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must reside in the U.S., attend school in the U.S., apply with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident), and provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID. Requested loan amount must be at least $1,000. 

1. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. 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 borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. 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.

2. You must apply for a new loan each school year. This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate loan in the 2019/20 school year who were approved when they returned in 2020/21. It does not include the denied applications of students who were ultimately approved in 2020/21.

3. Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.

4. This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with undergraduate or graduate loans with a first disbursement between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2024. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. Chegg Study® offers expert Q&A where students can submit up to 20 questions per month. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit http://www.chegg.com/legal/smtermsandconditions for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

5. 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. 

6. 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.

7. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. 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 borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. 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

8. Savings comparison assumes a freshman student with no other Sallie Mae loans receives a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common variable rate as of August 2021.

9.  Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 9.63% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $172.95 and one payment of $121.42, for a Total Loan Cost of $21,977.47. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.07% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $125.36 and one payment of $49.52 for a total loan cost of $23,163.96. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years.

10. Based on a comparison of approval rates for Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans for undergraduate students who applied with a cosigner versus without a cosigner from May 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.

11. Based on a rolling 12-month period from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

Information advertised valid as of 9/26/2022.

SALLIE MAE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. CHECK SALLIEMAE.COM FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE PRODUCT INFORMATION.