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Higher Education Financing is Complicated. Here’s How Sallie Mae is Helping Students Make Sense of it All.

Education Landscape

Millions of students enroll in college, vocational school, or certificate programs each year, eager to learn. Before enrolling, they face a lot of decisions, including where to attend, and how to pay for it.

Wading through the details of higher education financing choices (and forms) can be confusing, especially for first time students. Navigating the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and comparing multiple financial aid offers from schools can leave many families scratching their heads, not fully aware how the decisions they make today may affect their lives tomorrow.

We get it. And it’s why Sallie Mae® has made a commitment to help students make sense of their financing options – whether or not they end up choosing to borrow from us. By helping students understand their options, we’re not only helping them make smart, thoughtful financial decisions, but also we’re powering them with confidence to achieve their goals.

Understanding Financing Helps Students Achieve Their Dreams

Helping students unlock the power of higher education begins with making it easier for families to understand the full range of financing options available before they apply for assistance and loans.

The philosophy we use to counsel these families is fairly simple:

  1. Start with money you won’t have to pay back. Loans should never be the first option to pay for college. In fact, they should be the last. Students should supplement college savings and income by maximizing scholarships, grants, and work-study. After all, the best money is what you won’t have to pay back. This is why we provide a free scholarship search tool with access to 6 million scholarships worth up to $30 billion. Last year, more than 24,000 students received a scholarship through our search tool, covering more than $67 million in college costs.
  2. Explore federal student loans. We encourage students to explore federal student loan options by completing the FAFSA. Too many families skip the FAFSA because of the complicated process, which means they’re potentially missing out on thousands of dollars in financial aid. To simplify the application process, we launched a new tool in 2020 to make filing the FAFSA quicker and easier, helping more families take advantage of the resources available to them.
  3. Consider a responsible private student loan. Sometimes, after accounting for savings, scholarships, and grants, and federal financial aid, there’s still a gap. That’s where a responsible private student loan can make sense. Often secured with a cosigner, these loans go through underwriting to ensure customers will be able to manage them successfully. Our lending philosophy also encourages students and their families to evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments and how much the student expects to earn in the future before considering a private student loan.

This approach is working. Roughly 97% of all Sallie Mae loans in repayment are being successfully managed, and fewer than 2% of loans default annually.

When our students are able to make informed decisions about financing their higher education plans, they are empowered and more likely to achieve financial independence after school. The correlation between graduating and future success is clear and unmistakable. People with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66% more — $1 million more over their lifetime — than those with only a high school diploma.

Tools for Everyone

Earning a degree is critical to success in today’s workforce. It’s why our financial literacy products are available for free to anyone — whether they hold Sallie Mae loans or not. From planning calculators, to estimating monthly loan payments and future costs, to our simplified FAFSA application, we want smart planning and preparation to be part of every student’s higher education experience.

We’re proud of our financial products, and we’re proud of the students and families using them to achieve their dreams. Sallie Mae isn’t just financing private student loans — we’re helping create America’s future.

FAFSA is a registered service mark of U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid