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Putting it in Perspective: Sallie Mae’s Role in Higher Education


Student loan debt on the rise. 

The amount of outstanding student loans in the U.S. has been on the rise for years, and it reached a record-breaking high in 2020 at $1.57 trillion. This is a four-fold increase since 2005, when student loan debt totaled just $391 billion.

Loan Debt Infographic

Federal v. Private: What’s the difference?

The federal government is the largest provider of student loans. In fact, the federal government holds 92% of all student loan debt, meaning fewer than $1 in $10 of student loan debt is owed to private lenders.  Private student loans, like those originated by Sallie Mae®, are recommended as supplemental support for students and families who have financed the bulk of their education with income and savings, scholarships and grants, and aid from the federal government.

Private loan graphic

How does Sallie Mae Help?

With Financial Planning Calculators for Students & Families

Paying for higher education should be simpler and students should be informed, understanding loan choices and how repayment works before committing to a loan. Sallie Mae’s easy-to-use online financial planning tools and resources make it clear how the choices students make today can affect their lives tomorrow.

In 2020, Sallie Mae helped 420,000 students and families finance their education, and that lending philosophy is working: 97% of Sallie Mae loans in repayment are being successfully managed, and less than 2% default annually.

Loan default graphic

With Free Scholarship Search Tools

In the 2019-20 academic year, 58% of families used scholarships to pay for college, the second biggest source of funding after student loans. Sallie Mae provides a free scholarship search tool aimed to help students and families source more free money they can put toward college. Last year, 24,000 students earned at least one scholarship using the tool, covering $67 million in college costs.

Scholarship Search Tools Infographic

By Making Applying for the FAFSA® Easier

In the 2017-18 academic year, 83% of families filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In the 2019-20 academic year, only 71% did. Fewer families are filing for aid, which means they may be missing out on thousands of dollars of money for higher education. To help, Sallie Mae launched a tool that makes filing the FAFSA easier and quicker — and it’s free.

Financial aid year by year comparison graph

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