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If you took out a private student loan to pay for college, you may be getting some letters and email from a company called Sallie Mae. You definitely need to open those.

Sallie Mae is a consumer banking business focused on education, and it originates and services more than 1 million private student loans. It used to service federal education loans, too, but in 2014, it moved that aspect of its business into a separate company called Navient. It’s not nearly as common for a student loan borrower to have to deal with Sallie Mae these days as it used to be before the Navient spinoff, but if you have private student loans, you may need to get quite familiar with the company. Your student loans can have a huge impact on your financial future, like whether or not you can get a mortgage or other forms of credit, so you want to be on top of these accounts as soon as you’re done with school, if not sooner.

Not only is Sallie Mae a private student loan lender, it offers consumer banking services, insurance and its Upromise college savings program.

As you enter repayment of your student loans, either right as you leave school or after your grace period expires, you’ll be hearing from your student loan servicer about how to make payments. That may be why letters and emails from Sallie Mae are showing up in your inbox.

“[T]his year we are launching new communications by email and USPS to customers and their co-signers to help them with the things they need to know as they prepare for repayment including: estimating payment amounts, establishing a budget, reducing interest rates through auto-debit, creating or logging in to their online account and updating contact information,” said Rick Castellano, vice president of corporate communications for Sallie Mae, in an email to Credit.com.

If ever you have questions about your loan or concerns about your ability to make payments, you should immediately reach out to your servicer. Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on paying for college, recommends calling the servicer to solve any problems. He explained via email:

“Most borrowers with complicated questions seem to prefer communicating with their lenders by email or the lender’s website, since they can send email at any time and describe the question or problem in depth,” wrote Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.com. “Sometimes communicating by phone yields a quicker resolution of the problem or question, since the lender might need additional information or to ask follow-up questions.”

Borrowers can communicate with Sallie Mae via USPS, email or phone, Castellano said, and as it is with most consumer banking options these days, borrowers can manage their accounts entirely online.

Repaying student loans can be intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out at a new job and getting a handle on post-grad life. What you don’t want to do is procrastinate on opening up those communications from Sallie Mae. Missing payments and falling behind on your student loans can seriously damage your credit, which can only make it harder to establish the sure financial footing you want. You can see how your student loan debt affects your credit standing by getting your free credit report summary on Credit.com — if managed well, your student loans can help you build a strong history of on-time payments and smart debt management.

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