Private-label student-loan ABS seems to be doing better, at least in terms of issuance. Volumes have hit $1.4 billion in the year-to-date, a figure equal to 70% of 2011’s overall number, according to researchers at Barclays Capital. But Sallie Mae has been the only primary-market issuer for twenty months now, and the bar was set low by last year’s number of deals — only three.

In 2010, Sallie Mae was responsible for 68% of all private-credit student loan ABS issuance.

So far this year, private credit student loan ABS accounts for 48% of all student loan ABS issuance.

Collateral performance is stronger than at the trough of the crisis but has yet to recover to pre-2007 levels, the researchers said. They added: “Older vintage transactions continue to perform better than recent transactions, mainly because of credit burnout and the weak job market for the recently graduated.”

Discouraged by legislative and regulatory uncertainty, lenders continue to abandon this business line. The most recent to decamp is US Bancorp, according to the researchers.

The graph below shows how the once chromatic market of issuers has shrunk to a single shade.

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