SunTrust Banks in Atlanta will offer a new loan program that allows borrowers to refinance their existing private student loans.The SunTrust Bank Private Student Loan Consolidation Program gives approved borrowers the choice of a fixed- or variable-interest rate in addition to several repayment terms, according to First Marblehead, a third-party administrator of student lending activities for SunTrust. The program will begin accepting applications in early August.

"We believe that there is a growing need for this type of private student loan consolidation product," Mark Smith, SunTrust Bank's executive vice president for specialty lending, said Thursday. "Our ability to partner with First Marblehead in the design and delivery of this product puts SunTrust in position to meet that need by providing consumers the ability to choose the loan options — rate type and term — that meet their personal financial needs."

The consolidation program uses First Marblehead's Monogram platform, an integrated suite of design, implementation and credit risk management services for private-label education loan programs.

First Marblehead of Boston announced in April 2010 that it had agreed to process and manage SunTrust's student loans. The partnership has been extended until 2015 and was expanded to increase the amount of lending they can do together. The student loan firm was previously one of the most active ABS issuers in the sector, although its these activities stopped after the credit markets became troubled.

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