Sallie Mae CEO Says Company’s Move Reflects ‘Need to Adapt’

Sallie Mae announced Thursday that it will soon relocate its corporate headquarters from Reston to Newark, Del.

Through its subsidiaries, the company manages $182 billion in education loans and serves 10 million student and parent customers across the country.

Sallie Mae moved its headquarters to Reston from Washington, D.C., in 1996. The headquarters, which employs 700 local workers, has been at Reston Town center since 2004.

In November 2008, Sallie Mae opened a new facility in Newark, Del., that focuses on the company’s private student loan business, business development and its new retail deposit business.

Current plans are for that facility to become the company’s new headquarters by March 31, 2011, according to Sallie Mae spokeswoman Martha Holler.

According to Holler, a "few hundred" of the 700 employed in Reston will remain here. Holler said the upcoming relocation to Delaware is consistent with other strategic initiatives the company is taking following the passage of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which made major changes in the way federal education loans are carried out.

"This decision reflects our need to adapt to the massive changes in our business," Sallie Mae CEO Albert L. Lord said in a statement. "We have enjoyed nearly 40 years in the D.C. area; however, the objective is to combine the senior management team in a single location. Delaware officials helped make these changes as efficient as possible."

"Changes at the federal level impacted Sallie Mae’s ability to sustain their current workforce, and forced their consolidation," Virginia Economic Development Partnership spokeswoman Christie Miller said Friday.

In April, Virginia Gov.Robert McDonnell (R) said in a statement that expansion of the federal Health Care Reconciliation Act extended the reach of the federal government into student loans, essentially giving the federal government "monopoly control of the entire industry" and forcing Sallie Mae to alter its business practices.

"We’re sorry to lose them. They’ve been a very generous and very engaged corporate neighbor," said Fairfax County Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. "But we wish them luck."

Bulova said that in addition to providing monetary support to local nonprofit agencies within the county, Sallie Mae has been involved in community discussions of county issues like affordable housing and gang prevention.

"We hate to see them move their headquarters and lose our bragging rights to it," added Gerald Gordon, president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. "But companies make business decisions based on what they feel are their best interests; and we wish them success."


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