Fitch Ratings is in talks with a large student-loan servicer in preparation for issuing its first servicer rating by the middle of 2005, although Fitch analyst David Hartung declined to name the servicer, saying only that it is one of the largest in the business.

After that rating is announced, Hartung said, Fitch will move on to rate the other major student loan servicers on a rolling basis. "There are five or six we feel are necessary targets," he said. Hartung pointed to Sallie Mae, Nelnet, PHEAA, CFS-SunTech, ACS and Great Lakes as the servicers Fitch was likely to target first. In addition to those, Hartung said there are six to eight other servicers that Fitch would look to rate.

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