Daniel Macht

Sallie Mae Execs Tan at Maui Retreat While Student Debt Crisis Tops $1.6 Trillion

As 1 in 5 American adults wonder how to pay off their combined $1.6 trillion in student debt, Sallie Mae executives and sales team members wrestled with a different question: Between meetings, how should they spend their time on their five-day paid trip to the luxury Fairmont resort on Wailea beach in Maui? 

Sallie Mae brought more than 100 of its employees to Hawaii in August to celebrate a record year — $5 billion in student loans to 374,000 borrowers, NBC News reported. The company said it didn’t pay for employees’ families to attend, but some did tag along. 

“We said, ‘Hey, look, Maui is a pretty nice spot.’ And so if you wanted to stay a few days or want to bring family, that's up to you,” Ray Quinlan, CEO of Sallie Mae, told NBC News on the grounds of the Fairmont Hotel. 

Quinlan, in a walk-and-talk with NBC News, said the trip to Maui was not an “incentive trip.” 

“This is a sales get-together for all of our salespeople,” he said, adding the publicly traded company has been taking retreats like the Maui one since it was founded in the 1970s to service federal education loans.

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