WASHINGTON - President Bush signed an education bill Thursday that includes an experimental direct government loan program for college students.

The program, opposed by bankers who prefer the current system of guaranteed bank loans, will be launched in 1994. An estimated 300 to 400 colleges will channel loans to students, bypassing banks.

Supporters of the direct-loan experiment say it could save the government up to $275 million over five years.

Repayment to Be Based on Income

Of schools that participate, 35% will be required to offer a repayment options that is contingent on income. Students would be able to vary their repayment schedules according to income after graduation.

The Internal Revenue Service would probably collect the payments through payroll deductions.

The new higher-education law also reduces the spread banks can earn on student loans, creates a new loan program for all students regardless of income, and increases loan ceilings in several existing programs.

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