Sallie Mae – From Government Agency To Publicly Traded Company

by Aazdak Alisimo

Student loans make higher education a possibility for millions of people. If you are planning to use student loans to fund your high education, there is one company that will quickly come to the forefront for your efforts. Sallie Mae is that company.

Issuing student loans may seem a rather innocuous task, but it is huge money. Sallie Mae currently is administering over 130 billion dollars in debt issued to individauls for the purpose of paying for college and post graduate school.

The history of the Student Loan Marketing Association, better known as Salllie Mae, is an odd one. It was originally a government agency of a sort created in 1972 to administer and guarantee federal student loans.

This was one government program that was an unmitigage success. One of the reasons the United States is a strong society is the large middle class. The efforts of this under the radar quasi-agency had a lot to do with that.

In 1997, it was decided that Sallie Mae should become an independent entity. Over the next seven years, it slowly cut its ties to the government. As of 2004, it is a publicly traded company. Bank of America is one of its primary owners.

Having gone private, Sallie Mae has evolved from a benevolent government agency to a bottom line watching public entity with shareholders to keep happy. This has resulted in a change of attitude and more than a few controversies.

Last year, an large investment fund made an offer to purchase the company for many billions of dollars. This would have effectively taken the entity private. Controversy raged and the deal fell through due to credit problems.

The company has also been roundly criticized for its collection practices. To say they are aggressive is an understatement. The company is known for trying to call not only borrowers, but non-borrowers to try to pressure repayment on loans.

Further evidencing its predator tendencies, the company has been caught pressuring colleges to turn over student information. The resulting furor caused the company to disavow said practices. At least, for the time being.

Sallie Mae is a critical source for funding high education for millions of people. That being said, the company is no longer the benevolent government agency it used to be.

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