Moody's Investors Service's private student loan default rate index dropped to 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from 4.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The index tracks more than 10 years of credit performance on 72 private student loan securitizations, constituting around $40 billion in outstanding pool balance. The Moody's rated securitizations by Sallie Mae, First Marblehead Corp., The Student Loan Corp., Keycorp and Access Group make-up almost 84% of the number of the securitizations underlying the indices.

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