The parties have reached a tentative settlement in a class action against the U.S. Department of Education claiming that the department overcharged for the costs of collection of student loans. The class action alleges that, while many student loan contracts contain a limitation on the amount that could be charged the student for collection costs, the department charged many students more than was allowable. As part of the proposed settlement, the department is reviewing the collection charges actually paid by students on their loans. The department is sending notices to all students who have collection cost limitations in their loan agreements and may have been overcharged. Although the court gave its preliminary approval of this settlement on December 15, 1998, the court has not yet held a hearing to consider final approval of the settlement. The settlement will not be effective until the court gives this approval. The Student Financial Assistance Programs of the U.S. Department of Education are the largest source of student aid in America, providing over $40 billion a year in grants, loans, and work-study assistance. Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance The committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to Congress and the Secretary of Education on student financial aid policy.