Shares of SLM Corp., the largest U.S. student loan provider, (NYSE: SLM) jumped on Friday after a published report said the firm is in talks with private equity groups for a possible sale of the company.

The deal may be worth more than $20 billion, said the New York Times, citing sources briefed on the discussions. The negotiations appear to be in late stages. The Blackstone Group L.P. was said to be a potential buyer.

It is unlikely that private equity could leverage the company a whole lot more and extract value that way on account of regulatory oversight and the intense scrutiny the student lending sector is presently under, said a Royal Bank of Scotland said in a note released to clients.

The discussions come after SLM Corp., also known as Sallie Mae, agreed to change some of its business practices and contribute $2 million to a student loan education fund as part of a settlement with the New York's Attorney General.

SLM shares jumped $6.01, or 14.8 percent, to close at $46.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.