Sallie Mae, the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education, today announced new, lower interest rates on its Smart Option Student Loan for graduate students.
Customers have a choice of variable or fixed rates with no origination fees and no prepayment penalties. The variable rate range is 2.25 to 7.5 percent (2.25 to 7.33% APR), based on today’s Libor. The fixed rate range is 5.75 to 8.875 percent (5.75 to 8.63% APR).
These rates compare favorably to federal Direct PLUS Loan rates, which are set at 7.9 percent with a 4-percent origination fee (8.35% APR for loans that defer repayment until after the student leaves school, or 8.79% APR for immediate repayment).
“Many graduate students and their families here at Ole Miss who are seeking additional financing to cover education costs consider federal Direct Grad PLUS loans or non-federal private student loans,” said Dewey Knight, associate director, financial aid, University of Mississippi. “Which loan program is ‘better’ is an individual decision dependent on the student's circumstances and preferences. We highly recommend that our students research both loan programs and choose the option that best meets their individual needs.”
The announcement comes just weeks before graduate students typically receive acceptances and financial aid award letters. To be eligible, graduate students may submit student loan applications on or after April 1, 2013. The rates are available to borrowers in a master’s or doctorate program, enrolled either full or part time.
“Just as graduate students apply to a variety of graduate schools and carefully consider their offers of admissions and financial aid, they should also thoroughly research their loan options,” said Charlie Rocha, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “Well-qualified applicants and those who expect to repay their student loans quickly may benefit from a lower-cost, no-fee private education loan.”
Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan features safeguards that promote responsible borrowing, including:
- No surprises: clear terms, 30 days to shop around and 60 days to cancel.
- 100 percent school certification: financial aid officers approve loan amounts to ensure that customers borrow no more than the cost of attendance, less other financial aid received.
- Graduate with less debt: customers who elect to make payments in school receive the best interest rates and pay less interest compared to those who defer payments until after graduation.
- On-time payment rewards: students may receive Upromise cash back rewards of 2 percent of their scheduled, on-time, in-school monthly payments and a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction with the auto debit payment program.
- Tuition insurance: up to $5,000 of tuition, room, board and other fees not refunded by the school if a student is forced to withdraw within a year for eligible medical reasons.
- Cosigner release opportunity: the primary borrower may apply for cosigner release after graduation and after making 12 consecutive monthly on-time principal and interest payments.
- Death and disability loan forgiveness: full loan forgiveness for the cosigner if a primary borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled.
Sallie Mae encourages students to apply for financial aid, build a budget, and compare their loan options to make the choice that’s right for them. The company recommends students explore Stafford loans, which may have lower rates, and compare other options, including PLUS loans and private loans, to fill any remaining unmet need.