Choose a fixed or variable interest rate

Interest is the cost you’re charged for borrowing money. When you pay back a loan, you pay it back with interest, so you end up paying back more than you borrowed.

Fixed interest rates stay the same for the life of the loan.

Benefit
Get predictable monthly payments with an interest rate that doesn’t change over time.

Consideration
Your total student loan cost may be higher because the interest rate may be higher than the starting variable interest rate.

Variable interest rates may go up or down due to an increase or decrease to the loan's index.

Benefit
Your interest rate may be less than a fixed interest rate, resulting in a lower total student loan cost.

Consideration
Your interest rate can rise or fall as the market index changes, so your student loan payments may vary over time.

James compares variable and fixed interest rates

Pay it back now or later

Our Smart Option Student Loan® for Undergraduate Students offers three repayment options. Each one will affect your total student loan cost differently.

Deferred repayment option

Make no scheduled loan payments while you’re in school and in grace (six months after leaving school).1 With this undergraduate student loan repayment option, you’ll likely pay more for your total student loan cost, since unpaid interest will be added to your principal amount at the end of your grace period.

Fixed repayment option

Pay $25 every month you’re in school and in grace1,2. Freshman students may save 12%3 on their total loan cost by choosing the fixed repayment option instead of the deferred repayment option. While your total loan cost will likely be less than with our deferred repayment option, unpaid interest will be added to your principal amount at the end of your grace period.

Interest repayment option

Pay your interest every month you’re in school and in grace. Your undergraduate student loan interest rate will typically be 1 percentage point lower than with the deferred repayment option. Freshman students may save 23%3 on their total loan cost by choosing the interest repayment option instead of the deferred repayment option. Your undergraduate student loan payments will likely be larger while you’re in school and in grace, but your total student loan cost will likely be lower than with the other repayment options.

Some of our other student loans have different repayment options.

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Related topics


Borrow responsibly
We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.
This loan is for undergraduate students at participating degree-granting schools. Students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must reside in the U.S., attend a participating school in the U.S., apply with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident) and provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID to verify their identity. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1,000. Current credit and other eligibility criteria apply.
1. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans.
2.  Examples of typical transactions for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common variable rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 6.88% APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $136.17 and one payment of $112.58, for a Total Loan Cost of $17,591.81. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 7.06% APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $98.17 and one payment of $66.85 for a total loan cost of $18,314.28. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.
3. Savings comparison assumes a freshman student with no other Sallie Mae loans receives a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common variable rate as of August 2020.
4. Based on a comparison of approval rates for Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans for undergraduate students who applied with a cosigner versus without a cosigner during a rolling 12-month period from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.
5. Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.
Sallie Mae loans are made by Sallie Mae Bank.
Information advertised valid as of 8/25/2021.
SALLIE MAE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. CHECK SALLIEMAE.COM FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE PRODUCT INFORMATION.