Sallie Mae Fights for Student-Loan Role in a Campaign That's All About Jobs

Sallie Mae Fights for Student-Loan Role in a Campaign That's All About Jobs 1

Ben Weller for The Chronicle

Employees of Sallie Mae, including Jining Han (above), brought signed petitions to a company-sponsored rally at its data center in Fishers, Ind., where officials exhorted Congress to protect the bank-based student-lending system in legislation advancing the federal direct-loan program.

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close Sallie Mae Fights for Student-Loan Role in a Campaign That's All About Jobs 1

Ben Weller for The Chronicle

Employees of Sallie Mae, including Jining Han (above), brought signed petitions to a company-sponsored rally at its data center in Fishers, Ind., where officials exhorted Congress to protect the bank-based student-lending system in legislation advancing the federal direct-loan program.

On a crisp November morning, hundreds of Sallie Mae employees gathered here in a scene reminiscent of a high-school pep rally. They filed into rows of folding chairs, wearing matching blue-and-white "Protect Indiana Jobs" T-shirts, as John Mellencamp's rock 'n' roll played over the speakers. They cheered as an official of the student-loan company praised their dedication and told them how important they were to the local economy.

For two weeks, at grocery stores, nursing homes, and