NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fitch Ratings has taken the following rating actions on SLM Student Loan Trust 2006-7:
--Class A-5 affirmed at 'AAAsf'; Outlook Stable;
--Class A-6A at 'AAAsf'; placed on Rating Watch Negative;
--Class A-6B at 'AAAsf'; Rating Watch Negative maintained;
--Class A-6C at 'AAAsf'; Rating Watch Negative maintained;
--Class B at 'Asf'; placed on Rating Watch Negative.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
The Rating Watch Negative action on class A-6A and B is due to their inability to pass 'AAA' credit stresses and 'A credit stresses, respectively. In addition, there is also heightened risk of the class B note missing its legal final maturity date of Jan. 27, 2042, which would result in an event of default. In an event of such technical default, Fitch would expect ultimate repayment of full principal and interest after the legal final date. Fitch expects to resolve the Rating Watch Negative status once its revised FFELP criteria report is published. The magnitude of any potential rating action could vary depending on remaining time to maturity, recent payment trends, issuer actions such as loan purchases, or other external factors.
Collateral Quality: The trust is collateral consists of 100% Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans. The credit quality of the trust is high, in Fitch's opinion, based on the guarantees provided by the transaction's eligible guarantors and reinsurance provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for at least 97% of principal and accrued interest. The Stable Outlook on the notes is consistent with Fitch's affirmation of the U.S. sovereign rating at 'AAA', Outlook Stable.
Credit Enhancement (CE): CE is provided by overcollateralization and excess spread. In addition, the class A notes benefit from subordination from the class B notes. As of the January 2016 distribution period, senior and total parity are at 104.54% and 100.00%, respectively. Cash is being released, as the trust has maintained the cash release level of 100% total parity.
Liquidity Support: Liquidity support is provided by a Debt Service Reserve Fund currently sized at the greater of 0.25% of the pool balance and $3,769,093.
Servicing Capabilities: Navient Solutions, Inc. is responsible for day-to-day servicing of the trust. Fitch believes Navient Solutions, Inc. to be an acceptable servicer of FFELP student loans.
On Nov. 18, 2015, Fitch released its exposure draft which delineates revisions it plans to make to the 'Rating U.S. Federal Family Education Loan Program Student Loan ABS Criteria', dated June 23, 2014.
Since the FFELP student loan ABS relies on the U.S. government to reimburse defaults, 'AAAsf' FFELP ABS ratings will likely move in tandem with the 'AAA' U.S. sovereign rating. Aside from the U.S. sovereign rating, defaults, basis risk, and loan extension risk account for the majority of the risk embedded in FFELP student loan transactions. Additional defaults, basis shock beyond Fitch's published stresses, lower than expected payment speed, and other factors could result in future downgrades. Likewise, a buildup of CE driven by positive excess spread given favorable basis factor conditions could lead to future upgrades.
DUE DILIGENCE USAGE
No third-party due diligence was provided or reviewed in relation to this rating action.
Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com.
Counterparty Criteria for Structured Finance and Covered Bonds (pub. 14 May 2014)
Criteria for Interest Rate Stresses in Structured Finance Transactions and Covered Bonds (pub. 19 Dec 2014)
Exposure Draft: Rating U.S. Federal Family Education Loan Program Student Loan ABS Criteria (pub. 04 Dec 2015)
Global Structured Finance Rating Criteria (pub. 06 Jul 2015)
Rating U.S. Federal Family Education Loan Program Student Loan ABS Criteria (pub. 23 Jun 2014)
Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form