One of President Obama’s top legislative priorities, an ambitious overhaul of student lending programs that aims to save money by shifting to direct government loans, is in danger of being delayed or perhaps scuttled altogether, reports the New York Times. Democrats in the Senate, where the private student lending industry has strong allies, predicted March 10 that the education bill would not be part of an expedited budget measure containing the final revisions to the health-care legislation. Some Democrats said that such a move would stall the student loan changes at a minimum for several months, and perhaps kill the overhaul altogether. Obama’s plan would end a program in which the government pays private, for-profit student lending companies to make risk-free loans using taxpayer money. Instead, the proposed overhaul would broaden the government’s existing direct-lending program, saving billions of dollars that the president had proposed using to expand Pell Grant scholarships for low-income students. But the bill, which already passed in the House, is strongly opposed by some Senate Democrats, particularly those in states where for-profit student lenders are major employers. In a letter to the majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, six Democrats said they disliked the president’s proposal…

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staff and wire services reports