SLM Corp, a student lender also known as Sallie Mae, reported a first quarter net loss as its income from the sale of student loans in tight credit markets disappeared.

The Reston, Virginia-based firm said it lost $104 million, or 28 cents per share compared to a gain of $116 million, or 26 cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Under current conditions, however, loans can only be made at an economic loss, the company said in a released statement. Reflecting this environment, the company is assessing how best to balance its resources and its mission to provide access for higher education.

Some of the company's income is generated through securitized loans. However risk aversion from investors during the current credit crisis has kept the company from selling its securities.

A year ago, Sallie Mae recorded $367.3 million from sales of packaged student loans for investors. However it had no such sales in the latest quarter.

The company said its core earnings net income, which exclude gains and losses from derivative instruments was $188 million, or 34 diluted earnings per share. A poll of analysts by Bloomberg had expected a 37 cent gain.

The company has been hurt by a failed $60 per share buyout bid of itself. Meanwhile, investors have avoided any asset-backed debt the company is offering.

The lender said its loan provision for losses was $137 million, down from $574 million.