I was dismayed to read yet another story that blasts the college student loan program {"Sen. Nunn Takes On Student Aid," Sept. 26}. This program has enabled thousands of students to attend colleges and universities across the country.

I, too, am concerned that a few schools have set up scam operations that offer no real training, but it is the accreditation and licensing practices that are supposed to regulate these schools -- not the structure of the student loan program -- that should be blamed. Schools that do not provide the education they promise are a menace to anyone who pays for them, not just those who use a federal student loan. It is incumbent on the U.S. Department of Education and the state agencies that permit the existence of those schools to correct their systems of approval to operate.

While it is easy to cite the cost of loan defaults, those figures fail to paint a complete and accurate picture of the value and health of the program. The great majority of the tens of thousands of students who have benefited from federal student loans not only repay their loans but are earning significantly more than they ever would have without their college training. Those increased wages translate into significant increases in federal income tax revenues and decreased costs of federal social and penal programs. These unsecured loans provide the only opportunity for many students to become educated and productive members of our democratic society.

In the past few years, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have imposed extensive regulations on colleges and universities to ensure that students and families understand the responsibilities that go with a government loan and that the schools properly administer them. It is time for the same attention to be given to ensure that the processes of accreditation and licensing result in quality education programs, and it is time that the Education Department's procedure allowing institutions to participate in the program include a thorough scrutiny of the schools' fiscal strength and facilities.