Sallie Mae's contract with the U.S. Education Department to collect payments on federal student loans could be at risk as a result of a probe reviewing whether the lender cheated active-duty soldiers of their student loan rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a law intended to ease legal and financial pressures on military borrowers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have led an investigation that already has uncovered cases in which Sallie Mae denied military borrowers federal student loans. Any legal violations, if made public as part of a lawsuit or settlement, likely would threaten Sallie Mae's contract.

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