NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Millions of high school and college graduates across the country have made the important decision of where they are headed to college or graduate school this fall, and now they have a new challenge—finding the right way to pay for it. After exploring grants, scholarships and federal loans, a private education loan can be an affordable and financially responsible way to fill the college financing gap. Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan® allows families to design the private education loan that’s right for them.
For the upcoming 2015/16 academic year, Sallie Mae will continue to offer highly competitive fixed and variable interest rates and no origination fees or prepayment penalties on its Smart Option Student Loans. Variable rates for undergraduates range from 2.25 to 9.37 percent APR, and fixed rates for undergraduates range from 5.74 to 11.85 percent APR. Graduate students can qualify for variable rates of 2.25 to 7.27 percent APR or fixed rates of 5.74 to 8.56 percent APR.
“For many families, scholarships, grants, federal loans and savings simply don’t cover the cost of attendance,” said Charlie Rocha, executive vice president, Sallie Mae. “We consistently hear from those families who are looking for an affordable, flexible option they can design to make up that gap in college financing. Our Smart Option Student Loan does just that.”
To encourage responsible borrowing, Sallie Mae requires its Smart Option Student Loans to be certified by the school’s financial aid office to help ensure customers borrow no more than the cost of attendance less other financial aid received. In addition to competitive interest rates and no origination fees, the Smart Option Student Loan offers the following benefits:
- Choice and Flexibility: Sallie Mae encourages customers to make payments while in school to reduce finance charges and the amount owed, and more than half of customers choose this option. Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan features three monthly repayment options: interest-only payments while in school, a fixed monthly payment while in school, or payments deferred until after school. On average, students may save almost 25 percent on total undergraduate loan costs when making interest payments while in school.
- Quarterly FICO® Score for Free: Customers have free access to their FICO® Score on a quarterly basis, along with information about factors that affect credit scores and why monitoring credit scores is important. Sallie Mae is the only national private education lender to offer this benefit.
- Reduced Interest Rates and Rewards for Paying on Time: Customers can reduce their interest rate by 0.25 percent by enrolling in the automatic debit option. Customers who sign up for Upromise by Sallie Mae—Sallie Mae’s free saving for college and rewards program—and choose to make interest-only or fixed payments while in school—may earn 2 percent of their scheduled monthly payment back in cash by making on-time payments. Also, through Upromise Loan Link, customers may use Upromise earnings to pay down eligible Sallie Mae student loans.
- U.S.-Based Customer Service: All Sallie Mae private education loan customer service agents are based in the United States. In addition, the company is unveiling upgrades and improvements to the online customer service experience later this month. The company already rolled out a new online resource—Managing Your Loans—to help customers understand loan repayment options.
- Graduated Repayment: The Smart Option Student Loan is the only nationwide private education loan offering a Graduated Repayment feature, a transitional repayment plan that offers customers greater budget flexibility. Students with an eligible loan who graduate and maintain their Sallie Mae loans in good standing may elect to make 12 interest-only payments instead of full principal and interest payments while transitioning into full principal and interest payments.
- Cosigner Release: After graduation customers may apply for their cosigner to be released from the loan once they have made 12 consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments and meet certain credit requirements.
Sallie Mae recommends the 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first, start with money you won’t have to repay by maximizing scholarships and grants; second, explore federal student loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; and third, consider a responsible private education loan to fill the financing gap. To help students and families make an informed borrowing decision, Sallie Mae provides prospective customers with detailed information about the total cost of the loan, including interest rate, monthly payment, and total payments required for each repayment option.
For more information or to apply visit www.SallieMae.com/smartoption.
Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.