Sallie Mae: We understand and are here to help


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Your story "Locals applaud student-loan changes" (DI, Feb. 7) omits important information about private education loans.

Sallie Mae advises families to use a "1-2-3 approach" to paying for college: First, use grants and scholarships; second, explore federal loans; and, third, fill the gap with responsible private loans. Sallie Mae offers among the lowest rates in the country and repayment options to help customers save money and pay off faster than other private loans.

The vast majority of education-loan customers successfully manage their payments. We recognize that a job search today may take longer than it used to, and we work with private-loan customers to help them navigate difficult financial circumstances and preserve their credit-standing.

We offer alternative repayment options scaled to the customer's ability to make more manageable payments during periods of demonstrated financial hardship. These options include reduced monthly payments, extended schedules, and temporary interest-rate reductions. Each is fee free and does not negatively affect a customer's credit-record.

When a customer requests "forbearance" — the ability to temporarily stop making payments altogether without a delinquency reflected on her or his credit record — we require a fee as a good-faith payment. The fee was put in place in 2004 to encourage customers to seek less costly options first, and it is now refundable after a customer resumes on-time payments.

The fact remains those with college degrees earn more and have higher employment rates than those without. Sallie Mae is proud to have helped 31 million Americans save, plan, and pay for college, including many successful University of Iowa alumni.

Patricia Nash Christel is the vice president of corporate communications for Sally Mae.

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