New Research Finds Sallie Mae Customers Who Track Their FICO® Scores Manage Credit More Responsibly

Customers Who Frequently Checked Their FICO Scores More Likely to Have Higher Credit Scores, Less Likely to Miss or Make Late Payments

Monday, February 26, 2018 8:00 am EST



Public Company Information:

"Our findings demonstrate how knowing and tracking your FICO Score can improve decision-making and overall financial health, analogous to how the use of a Fitbit can lead to improvements in one’s physical health"

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sallie Mae customers who check their credit scores regularly make better financial decisions and manage finances more responsibly, according to a just-released paper, “Does Knowing Your FICO Score Change Financial Behavior? Evidence from a Field Experiment with Student Loan Borrowers.” The study found customers who received quarterly emails from Sallie Mae about the availability of free FICO® Scores were 65 percent more likely to view their FICO® Scores, more likely to have increased their credit scores, and had fewer past-due accounts.

Authored by Rourke O’Brien, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tatiana Homonoff, New York University, and Abigail Sussman, University of Chicago, the paper reports on a two-year study of Sallie Mae private student loan customers who receive free access to their FICO® Scores, a benefit the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company has offered since 2014 through the FICO® Score Open Access program. Sallie Mae was the first national private education lender to offer free access to quarterly FICO Scores.

“Our findings demonstrate how knowing and tracking your FICO Score can improve decision-making and overall financial health, analogous to how the use of a Fitbit can lead to improvements in one’s physical health,” said O’Brien. “We are grateful to Sallie Mae and FICO for enabling us to conduct this research.”

The study followed a sample of more than 400,000 Sallie Mae private student loan customers between June 2015 and June 2017. For this study, Sallie Mae agreed to segment 10 percent of the research sample into a group that would still have free access to their scores, but who would not receive the quarterly emails the company sends to private student loan customers when their FICO® Scores are updated, along with explanations of how the score is calculated and descriptions of the factors that influenced it. The study then compared differences between the two groups.

“The strategic research highlights the significant benefit of Sallie Mae frequently providing millions of students free access to their FICO Scores,” said Marie Morel-Seytoux, vice president, Scores, at FICO. “FICO Scores are used in over 90 percent of U.S. lending decisions. By having access to their FICO Scores, as well as the factors that affect them, students can better understand their credit, helping increase early credit education on core credit fundamentals as they begin their financial journey.”

“We are committed to helping customers manage their finances responsibly, and that includes giving them the information and tools they need to understand what a FICO Score is, why it is important to know it, and how maintaining a positive credit record affects many different aspects of their lives,” said Kelly Christiano, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “We are grateful that this research Rourke, Tatiana, and Abigail conducted confirms the value those activities have on our customers’ financial well-being.”

The researchers will present their findings in a free webinar hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Financial Security on Feb. 27, 2018, from 12-1 p.m. CST. Please register at

In addition to giving customers free access to their FICO Scores, Sallie Mae offers comprehensive credit score education online at, including “Understanding Credit,” a primer on credit basics Sallie Mae published in partnership with FICO. For more information, visit

About Sallie Mae: Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

About FICO: FICO (NYSE: FICO) powers decisions that help people and businesses around the world prosper. Founded in 1956 and based in Silicon Valley, the company is a pioneer in the use of predictive analytics and data science to improve operational decisions. FICO holds more than 180 US and foreign patents on technologies that increase profitability, customer satisfaction and growth for businesses in financial services, telecommunications, health care, retail and many other industries. Using FICO solutions, businesses in more than 100 countries do everything from protecting 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud, to helping people get credit, to ensuring that millions of airplanes and rental cars are in the right place at the right time. Learn more at Join the conversation at & For FICO news and media resources, visit FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and in other countries.

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Ellen J. Roberts, 302-451-0428
Chaundera Wolfe, 406-570-0347