WASHINGTON — The federal government is matching the industry’s student loan default rate performance, a General Accounting Office study showed.

The Federal Direct Loan Program, which makes loans directly to consumers, had a 6.6% default rate in 1998 and the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which guarantees student loans by private lenders, had a 6.7% default rate that year. Researchers compared the two programs using school default rate data from two years ago; they are the most recent data available.

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