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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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When savings, scholarships, and federal aid aren't enough, get the money you need to help pay for your undergraduate education. The "option" in the Smart Option Student Loan name means you can choose the type of interest rate and repayment option that work best for you.

Choose a variable or fixed undergraduate student loan interest rate

Variable interest rate:   
4.00% - 10.86% APR*

Your starting 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.

Fixed interest rate:   
5.74% - 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.

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, and you can save an average of 12%*** on your total undergraduate student loan cost when compared to our 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 1 percentage point lower than with our deferred repayment option* and you can save an average of 25%*** on your total student loan cost, compared to our 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

Exclusive benefit: Study StarterSM

Jump-start your studies with this free benefit: up to 120 minutes of live, online tutoring from Chegg TutorsTM or step-by-step Textbook Solutions and Expert Q&A through Chegg Study®. Not sure which is right for you? Try a little of both. Learn more about Study Starter.

Connect with live online tutors for homework help or exam prep.

Learn to solve difficult problems in math, science, business, and engineering textbooks. Chegg will show you how, one step at a time.

Benefit from these Smart Option Student Loan features

Lower your total loan cost—get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction when you enroll in and make monthly payments by auto debit.

Pay no origination fee or penalty for paying off your undergraduate student loan before its due date.

Borrow from $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance.

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.

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 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 borrowers attending degree-granting institutions only. You must be attending or have attended a participating school located in the U.S. during an eligible prior enrollment period. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a Non-U.S. citizen borrower with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and required U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) documentation. U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in eligible study abroad programs or who are attending or have attended schools located outside the U.S. are also eligible. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1,000. Current credit and other eligibility criteria apply.

* 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 and during your six-month separation or grace period. 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 APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans.

** This repayment example is based on a typical loan to a borrower who chooses a variable rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.77% variable APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $160.54 and one payment of $119.94, for a Total Loan Cost of $20,499.20. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.

*** Savings based on a typical loan to a freshman.

This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to undergraduate borrowers with loans that first disburse between May 8, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Borrowers who reside in or attend 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.

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, and may therefore be suspended during a forbearance or deferment period.

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

Borrowers and cosigners who have an available FICO® Score, 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.

Smart Option Student Loans are made by Sallie Mae Bank or a lender partner.

Information advertised valid as of 5/25/2018.