Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) is in the market with its first-ever private credit student loan transaction, a $727 million deal via Merrill Lynch. Unlike Sallie's typical ABS, which is backed by loans guaranteed by the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the loans in SLM Private Credit Student Loan Trust 2002-A do not feature any government guarantees. This is also the first time SLMA is offering classes rated below the single-A level.

The trust is backed by loans originated in four separate programs: LAWLOANS (20.2%), MBAloans (15.3%), MEDLOANS (14.9%), and Signature (49.6%). The programs were designed for students whose borrowing needs exceed the maximum amount offered through the FFELP program. As implied by their names, the programs make loans to law students, MBA students, and medical students. The Signature program is the only of the four available to undergraduates.

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