Did you rehab the loans? If so, Sallie Mae should remove the default notation. If not, (it sounds like you may have just consolidated them), then the notation will remain on your report unless you can get them to GW it off. I know it sounds "active" but that notation is just one of the many ways that lenders have of indicating that they reported your loan in default and transferred it back to the DOE for collection, I doubt any of them are worse than the others. Is the tradeline correct otherwise? Does it show the loan as closed/zero balance? If so, you'd be disputing an accurate account.
If you are loans are unsubsidzed, they are accruing interest now. The sooner you start paying, the less interest you will owe over the life of the loan. If you can make payments now, do so, your lender will accept them even though you are in deferment.