Families shopping for student loans to help pay for college this fall could find it easier to get a federal loan—and will probably pay less, too—as new laws relegate private lenders to a smaller role. But securing a private loan could require more legwork.

The changes, part of a health-care overhaul that was signed into law this spring, cut out the private-sector middlemen from offering federal loans as of July 1, while boosting federal grant programs. The new rules should help eliminate some of the confusion between private and federal loans, since many banks had offered both.

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