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Sallie Mae restructuring affects Indiana jobs

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Although Indiana was spared the closure of entire Sallie Mae service centers, the state didn't escape the student-loan giant's restructuring.

Sallie Mae laid off roughly 70 people, who mainly worked in IT, at its Fishers facility on Dec. 3. That move was part of 100 layoffs nationwide, said Conwey Casillas, vice president of public relations. At least one other affected location was near Scranton, Penn., according to published reports.

"Every employee impacted will receive a generous severance package and comprehensive job-placement services," Casillas said.

Sallie Mae, a nickname for the publicly traded SLM Corp., is restructuring because of a new law that cuts banks out of the federal student-loan business. The company is in the process of cutting about a third of its nationwide work force of roughly 8,000 people.  That included closing service centers near Killeen, Texas, in November and in Panama City, Fla., by the end of the year.

Casillas said he didn't know whether future job cuts would affect Indiana locations. Overall, Indiana is supposed to benefit from the consolidation. In October, the company said it will move about 350 jobs to facilities in Fishers and Muncie. Casillas said that process is underway.

But the consolidation doesn't appear to have boosted Sallie Mae's local employment in a significant way. Casillas said the current headcount in Indiana is about 2,550, with 1,850 in Fishers and 700 in Muncie.

The company is consolidating its management as well and next year will move its headquarters from Reston, Va., to Delaware.

Sallie Mae still services some $150 billion in student loans from the former federal program, and it will continue to employ people to work with those loans. But as CEO Alfred Lord pointed out at a Nov. 30 investor conference, "It is a wind-down business."

Sallie Mae also makes private loans and is trying to build that business.  "It's been a bit of a balancing act between contraction and expansion," Lord told analysts. "That's an interesting high-wire act, because it's a very difficult thing to accomplish culturally, but we're accomplishing it."

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