A provision buried in the giant spending bill that Congress is set to approve today would let Sallie Mae's parent affiliate with a financial institution.

The measure would exempt Sallie Mae, the secondary market maker for student loans, from a 1996 law that prevents joint ownership of government- sponsored enterprises and financial institutions. Though Sallie Mae converted to a private company last year, it still has a GSE subsidiary that must be phased out by 2008.

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