WASHINGTON - Student loan lenders squeezed by the credit crunch are increasingly anxious that they will be unable to secure liquidity to originate new loans for the academic year that began July 1 despite a high-profile plan by the Department of Education designed to assist non-bank lenders in financing loans.

The concerns - from some of the largest state agencies and nonprofits that issue tax-exempt bonds backed by student loans - come as the DOE has taken steps in the last week to finalize the details of a plan it unveiled in May in which it will agree to loan lenders money but only if they have already secured access to short-term "bridge loans" elsewhere.

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