As the financial world waits for frozen credit markets to thaw, higher-education officials say college students will face unprecedented scrutiny from private lenders as the United States reels from its sharp economic downturn.

Students seeking to attend the nation's largest universities whose loan applications come with credit-worthy cosigners likely will have little trouble obtaining financing, experts say--but community college students with scant or checkered credit histories might be driven to nontraditional payment policies.

The $850 billion bailout package passed by Congress earlier this month won't have an immediate impact on student loans, but it could be a first step in unclogging the credit market and making loans more


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