The Obama administration is set to pull in $51 billion from student loans this year, “a sum greater than the earnings of the nation’s most profitable companies and roughly equal to the combined net income of the four largest U.S. banks by assets,” The Huffington Post reports.

The figure was announced Tuesday when the Congressional Budget Office adjusted its projected fiscal year profit for the Department of Education by 43 percent to $50.6 billion, up from an earlier estimate of $35.5 billion.

Budget documents show that the Education Department has collected nearly $120 billion in profit off student borrowers over the last five fiscal years, thanks to “record relative interest rates on loans as well as the agency’s aggressive efforts to collect defaulted debt.”

Student debt — the only kind of consumer debt to increase since the onset of the economic crisis — sits at $1.1 trillion. The drag is keeping student borrowers from making major purchases such as homes and new cars and diminishing their ability to save for retirement. Rates fixed by Congress on the majority of student loans are at 6.8 percent or 7.9 percent.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Shahien Nasiripour at The Huffington Post:

Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation’s most profitable company, reported $44.9 billion in net income last year. Apple Inc. recorded a $41.7 billion profit in its 2012 fiscal year, which ended in September, while Chevron Corp. reported $26.2 billion in earnings last year. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo reported a combined $51.9 billion in profit last year.

The estimated increase in the Education Department’s earnings from student borrowers and their families may cause a political firestorm in Washington, where members of Congress and Obama administration officials thus far have appeared content to allow students to line government coffers.

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