WASHINGTON (AP) -- Student lender Sallie Mae has reached a $60 million settlement with the Justice Department to resolve allegations it charged members of the military excessive interest rates on their student loans, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The deal settles a government lawsuit that asserted the student loan giant violated the rights of service members by imposing interest rates above the 6 percent permitted by federal law and by improperly seeking default judgments against them.

Separately, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced a $30 million settlement arising from allegations the company maximized consumer late fees.

The lawsuit was the Justice Department's first against owners of student loans. The settlement has been filed in federal court in Delaware and is awaiting a judge's approval.

"We are sending a clear message to all lenders and servicers who would deprive our service members of the basic benefits and protections to which they are entitled. This type of conduct is more than just inappropriate. It is inexcusable," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference.

Federal officials estimate 60,000 service members will be eligible for compensation as part of the settlement.



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