The student-loan sector has had quite a showing this year, with issuance already nearing 40% of total 1999 volume, according to the research group at Banc of America Securities. But is this the tide of a take-off sector, or merely run-off from deals held back last year?

It's a combination of the two, said Cheryl Watson, senior vice president and chief financial officer at USA Group Secondary Market Services. Watson sees student loan volume hitting $20 billion this year, nearly doubling last year's proceeds.

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