It's important to make your student loan payments as soon as you receive your bill. However, if you're having trouble, there are options for assistance, including: income-driven repayment plans, deferment, forbearance, and solutions to help you avoid delinquency and prevent default.

The important thing is not to ignore your commitment to repay your loan. Visit our website at SallieMae.com or call us at
1-800-722-1300. Note that programs described here apply to federal student loans and may or may not be applicable to private student loans that you may have.

Income-driven repayment options

Income-driven repayment options are determined by your income, along with other plan-specific factors. If your income is low, or if you're experiencing financial hardship, one of the following plans might be right for you.

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Income-Contingent Repayment

Learn more about income-driven repayment options

Deferment and forbearance

If you think you may have a problem making on-time payments due to a temporary financial difficulty, you may be eligible for a period of deferment or forbearance. Note that these options don't release you from your loan, just from making scheduled payments for a brief time. Remember, interest may continue to accrue.

  • Deferment: A period where you postpone making payments on your loan. Interest doesn't accrue on subsidized federal loans.
  • Forbearance: A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced. Payments on your loan principal are postponed, but interest will accrue during the forbearance period. Forbearance is intended to help you out in times of temporary need.

To request a deferment or forbearance, log in to your account and click on "Change Payment." Be sure to keep making your loan payments while you're in the process of requesting a deferment or forbearance, so you don't become delinquent.

For more information, visit studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance.

If you're unemployed or having financial difficulty

If you're having temporary issues making your student loan payments due to one of these events, be sure to let us know as soon as possible to avoid becoming delinquent.

  • Unemployment deferment: If you're unemployed (or working less than 30 hours per week) and seeking full-time employment, you may be eligible for an Unemployment Deferment for up to three years. If you're working 30+ hours per week but you aren't able to afford your monthly payment, you may consider a graduated or income-driven repayment plan.
  • Economic hardship deferment: You may be eligible for an Economic Hardship Deferment for up to three years.

To request a deferment from Sallie Mae or to change your repayment plan, log in to your account or call us at 1-800-722-1300.

Loan consolidation

For borrowers who want to combine their eligible federal student loans into a single loan. It's important to understand and carefully consider all factors before consolidating. Visit StudentAid.ed.gov/repay-loans/consolidation or call us if you need help deciding if federal student loan consolidation is the right option for you.

  • Private student loans cannot be included in a Direct Consolidation Loan.
  • The interest rate on a consolidation loan may be higher. The interest rate is calculated by the weighted average of the interest rates of the loans consolidated, rounded up to the nearest 0.125 percent.
  • The Direct Consolidation Loan interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
  • Depending upon your loan balance, you may extend the repayment period for up to 30 years with consolidation. The extended period makes the monthly payment amount more manageable; however, the longer your loans are in repayment, the more interest you will pay over the life of the loan.

To apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, visit StudentLoans.gov

Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation, or Discharge

Under certain circumstances, your outstanding federal student loan balance may be forgiven or canceled (discharged). Please visit StudentAid.gov to find out if you qualify due to your employment, disability, the closure of your school, or other circumstances.

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – If you are employed full-time in a qualified public service job, you may be eligible to have the remaining balance of your eligible federal Direct Loans forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments. View or download the PSLF Fact Sheet.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness – Find out if you qualify for loan forgiveness under this program. Visit StudentAid.gov for more information and instructions on how to apply.
  • Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) – Find out if you are eligible to have your federal loans discharged on the basis of your total and permanent disability. Visit StudentAid.gov for more information and www.disabilitydischarge.com for FAQs and how to apply. You must provide information to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to show you are totally and permanently disabled. ED will evaluate the information and determine if you qualify for a TPD discharge.

Don't default on your loan

Delinquency and default come with serious consequences, and we can provide guidance to help you avoid them.

  • Delinquency: Occurs when you don't make your monthly loan payments on time. Your loan is considered delinquent when one payment is missed.
  • Default: Occurs when you are 270 days or more past due on your federal student loan. Defaulting can harm your credit. It can even affect your ability to qualify for a car loan or home mortgage. If you default on your loans:

    • You can hurt your chances of getting a job if your employer performs a credit check.
    • You can lose your entitlements to deferment or forbearance options.
    • You can lose your eligibility for future student financial aid.
    • Your wages can be garnished.
    • Your IRS tax refund can be seized.
    • You can be sued for the balance of your loan.

What you can do to avoid default

If you're having a problem making your payments, the first thing you should do is contact Sallie Mae Customer Service. We can help you find a solution, like a new repayment plan that lowers your monthly payments.

You can also log in to your account and see if you are eligible for a deferment or forbearance. If it appears that you are, follow the instructions and apply online.

For more information on default, visit studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/default.

If you're having trouble making payments - we're here to help
Log in to your account at SallieMae.com or call us today at 1-800-722-1300.