SLM Holding Corp., extending its march into business beyond the purchase of student loans, took another step toward competing with the banks that lend to students with an agreement to acquire USA Group Inc.

SLM, which owns Sallie Mae and has inked several other deals over the past year to branch into areas related to its student loan portfolio, will pay $770 million in cash and stock for Indianapolis-based USA Group, which operates financial service offices on college campuses.

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