This is an interesting blog with all kinds of info on student loan policy, specifically the way that commercial lenders are riding the "gravy train" of federal subsidies. The site is run by The Institute for College Access and Success, a year-old nonprofit that works on rising student debt, something called college access marketing, as well as more cost-efficient student loans. They've gotten good coverage, in The New York Times as well as the Washington Post (above).
Here's a link to a 2004 policy paper by the Institute's director titled "Straight Talk on Student Loans." It advocates cutting middlemen (the lenders) out of the student loan business, and lending all the money to students direct from the feds, as is already done with about 1/4 of loans through the direct lending program. I think this is a capital idea, although I also think energy should be directed to increasing aid, not just better loans.