Sallie Mae Student Loans & Forgiveness: Everything You Need to Know

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Sallie Mae is a private student loan company, which means that there’s no exclusive Sallie Mae loan forgiveness program. In fact, there are no forgiveness programs for private student loans at all — that includes the popular Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

While that can be disappointing, there are many other options to get help with your student loans. And if you do have some federal loans, there may still be some forgiveness options available to you.

So if you came here looking for Sallie Mae loan forgiveness, here’s what’s out there for you.

How to get help with your Sallie Mae student loans

Although there’s no Sallie Mae-specific forgiveness program, you may still be able to get some repayment assistance with these private student loans. Here are some programs and other options that are available.

State-based loan repayment programs

Most states provide one or more student loan repayment programs to residents who work in certain career fields — mostly public fields such as teachers, health care, legal, and more — and meet program requirements.

Programs and requirements can vary by state, so check your state’s website to find out what’s available and whether you qualify.

Keep in mind, though, that some programs may only offer assistance on federal student loans. So if you have a mix of federal and private loans, you may be able to get help only on a portion of your student loan debt. However, in some cases, private loans may be eligible, which can boost your chances of getting the help you need.

Private employer repayment programs

While most government-based repayment and forgiveness programs are designed for federal student loans only, you likely won’t run into that limitation if your private employer offers repayment assistance as an employee benefit.

Many major companies may provide this park. However, some smaller companies may offer loan repayment assistance as well, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a new job.

How much assistance you get depends on the company. For example, some may offer a set monthly payment for a predetermined period, or you may get a certain amount each month until your loans are paid in full.

Student loan refinancing

Whether or not you can get help with paying off your student loans, refinancing them could be a great way to score a lower interest rate and save money.

Student loan refinancing involves replacing one or more existing loans with one new loan You can refinance private loans, federal loans, or both together.

Depending on your credit history and income situation, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying. If you do, this could also reduce your monthly payment, giving you more room in your budget for other important expenses.

Refinancing can also give you more control over your repayment term. For example, if you have the budget for it, you could request a shorter repayment term, which would result in a higher monthly payment but would help you pay off your debt sooner and save money on interest.

In contrast, you could apply for a loan with a longer repayment term, which would result in you paying more interest over time but would make your monthly payment more affordable.

Because student loan refinance lenders require a credit check, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get approved, let alone qualify for a lower interest rate. If you can’t get approved on your own, however, you may be able to apply with a creditworthy cosigner to improve your odds.

If you’re considering refinancing, plan to compare rates and other terms from several lenders before you decide on the best one for you.

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What to do if you also have federal student loans

While your Sallie Mae student loans don’t qualify for forgiveness, you may still be able to take advantage of federal forgiveness options if you also have federal student loans.

If this is the case for you, here are some popular options:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Called PSLF for short, this program allows you to get full forgiveness of your remaining balance after you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments. You’ll also need to work full-time for a qualifying employer which can be a U.S. federal, state, local or, tribal government agency or an eligible not-for-profit organization.

If you qualify to have your federal student debt discharged, the amount is not considered income for tax purposes.

Forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans

The U.S. Department of Education offers four income-driven repayment plans for federal loans, including:

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

Each of these plans can reduce your monthly payment to a percentage of your discretionary income. They also extend your repayment term to up to 20 or 25 years. After you’ve finished that term, your remaining balance will be forgiven.

The only difference is that discharged debt under one of these plans is considered taxable, so you’ll need to work with a tax professional to ensure you’re prepared for a potentially huge tax bill.

Teacher loan forgiveness

The teacher loan forgiveness program is designed for teachers working in low-income schools. To qualify, you need to teach full-time for at least five years, after which you can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.

Unfortunately, not all federal loans qualify for this program — PLUS Loans and Perkins Loans are ineligible. Also, qualified math and science teachers at the secondary level can get the full $17,500 in forgiveness. All other teachers can get up to $5,000. There are no tax implications on discharged debt with this program.

Perkins Loan cancellation

If you have Perkins Loans, which are no longer available to new borrowers, you can qualify for up to 100% forgiveness through the federal loan program.

To qualify, you must teach in a low-income school for up to five years, and you’ll get a portion of your debt canceled for each year you teach — that’s 15% for the first and second years, 20% for the third and fourth years and 30% for the fifth year.

Next steps

Because they’re private student loans, there’s no option for Sallie Mae loan forgiveness. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of options entirely.

As you research these and other private student loan repayment programs, take some time to consider how they can help you achieve your goal of becoming debt-free.

While you may not have all of the same options that federal student loan borrowers have, it’s still possible to get help with your student loan debt or refinance your loans to save money.

And if you do have some federal student loans in addition to your Sallie Mae loans, consider whether you can qualify for student loan forgiveness programs or an income-driven repayment plan with that portion of your debt.

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