Moody’s Investors Service in a report Wednesday said that the high jobless rate will keep the default rate among private, non-guaranteed student loans at their presently steep levels through 2012. For the collateral backing ABS deals in the agency’s index, the default figure was 5.1% in Q4, about flat from the 5.0% posted in 2010. That is more than double the pre-recession rate.

The number Moody’s calculated for Q4 reflects 97% of securitizations. For the remaining 3% the agency used Q3 data.

Despite projecting that the overall rate would be steady, Moody’s saw further deterioration in the portfolios of large lenders. “First Marblehead Corp. and Access Group, which constitute 31% of the Private Student Loan Indices, for instance, continue to report rising default rates,” the agency said.

Below is a chart tracking the ratio of annual defaults over the active repayment balance from Q2 2002 to the most recent fourth quarter.

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