FAIRBORN, Ohio (11/5/09)--Wright-Patt CU has stepped up to assist consumers who are forced to rely on private student loans during the exodus of many traditional lenders from the student-lending market. According to Linda Stephens, vice president of consumer lending at the Fairborn, Ohio-based credit union, while the government has ensured the continued availability of federal loans, consumers forced to rely on private student loans will feel the biggest pinch. "The cost of college education has risen dramatically over the last 15 years. This has led to an ever-increasing gap between what scholarships and federal loans cover and the actual cost of attendance," Stephens said. Wright-Patt in May teamed with Credit Union Student Choice to provide a private education line of credit, which features zero origination fees, lower interest rates, in-school deferred payment, co-signer release and a graduated repayment option. The product is structured as a line of credit, so students can make multiple draws over the course of their entire college career after completing just one loan application, Stephens said. "Most important, we control the pricing and retain the ongoing relationship with our member," she said. Many lenders take advantage of consumers' lack of knowledge about education financing options, she said. Wright-Patt has built a website with information and calculators to help consumers.