Sallie Mae adding 2,000 jobs in 18 months

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RESTON, Va. (AP) — Sallie Mae said Monday that it will bring 2,000 jobs to the U.S. within the next 18 months as it shifts call center and other operations from overseas.

The move is welcome news to the country’s jobless, whose numbers have climbed past 13 million.

“The current economic environment has caused our communities to struggle with job losses. They need jobs, and we will put 2,000 of them into U.S. facilities as soon as we possibly can,” Chief Executive Albert L. Lord said in a statement.

Aside from call center positions, the nation’s largest private student lender will be looking for individuals to fill information technology and operations support roles.

Sallie Mae runs facilities in 20 U.S. locations including Lynn Haven, Fla.; Fishers, Ind.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Killeen, Texas and Newark, Del.

And if the turnout for jobs at its Delaware operations center is any indication, Sallie Mae should brace for a large number of applicants for the new crop of positions. A job fair hosted by the Reston, Va.-based company in December for the Delaware site saw more than 800 attendees and at least 2,300 more apply online. The lender said at the time that it planned to hire 1,100 workers for the facility by the end of 2011.

Sallie Mae, also known as SLM Corp., has more than 8,000 U.S. employees. It manages $180 billion in education loans and serves 10 million student and parent customers.

Shares of Sallie Mae rose 46 cents, or 8.6 percent, to $5.81 in premarket trading.