“The market is very sick,” Cooperman says. That’s not necessarily bad news for Cooperman, 69, a blustery billionaire from the South Bronx who first made his name as a stock picker during 25 years as an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) “We have to take advantage,” he says. “What’s ridiculously priced now?”

“Stocks are the best house in the financial asset neighborhood,” Cooperman says, before adding a caveat: “It’s not clear whether it’s a good neighborhood or a bad neighborhood.”

“Ultimately, it’ll work,” Cooperman says of SLM. “Lots of kids have to borrow money; their parents have to cosign the loans. It’s a profitable business.”