Sallie Mae will credit $50 fee to suspend payments

NEW YORK (AP) ? The private student lender Sallie Mae is changing how it handles a fee charged to struggling borrowers who seek to temporarily suspend payments.

Sallie Mae isn’t cancelling the $50 fee, but said it will now apply the money toward the borrower’s loan balance once on-time payments are resumed for six months in a row.

The change came after an online petition asking the company to drop the fee collected more than 77,000 signatures.

Borrowers who are unemployed or suffering economic hardship can apply to temporarily suspend payments on both private and federal student loans. The idea is to keep their credit history in good standing, although the loans still accrue interest.