March 16, 2007

Group defends financial aid officers

Posted in Student Loan News at 7:52 AM by Joe From Boston

Not surprisingly, given the article I posted yesterday, NASFAA, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has issued a statement regarding the New York Attorney General’s investigation into unfair and illegal practices regarding lenders and financial aid officers:

    Washington, D.C. (March 15, 2007) – The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) agrees with New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that preferred lender list abuses and real conflicts of interest must end. We agree that greater transparency is needed. In fact, two years ago NASFAA published a document for use by aid administrators in developing a preferred lender list using criteria of “good practices” in choosing among lenders.

    We are pleased the Attorney General’s letter is measured in its tone using phrases such as “…potential conflicts of interest and illegal conduct…” A financial aid administrator’s primary concern is to provide as much student aid as is available from all sources of federal and state assistance, private scholarships offered chiefly by colleges and civic groups, and student loans so that all students are able to finance their education and that their student loan debt burden is kept as low as possible. Part of the administrator’s responsibility is to find lenders with loan programs that have the most favorable borrower terms and conditions such as, no loan fees, lower interest rates, and loan repayment benefits for their students. If a financial aid administrator is not seeking the best loan product for their students, then they are not doing their job.

    We are pleased that Attorney General Cuomo’s letter states, “We are not suggesting that there are untoward relationships with lenders at every college or university, or that disclosures at all colleges and universities are insufficient.” NASFAA is in agreement with Mr. Cuomo that more disclosure is necessary and the few abuses that have occurred must end. Financial aid administrators are the first to condemn colleagues who cross the line into unethical behavior. And so we invite Mr. Cuomo to visit financial aid administrators in New York and around the country to talk to them about their practices. He will find committed professionals with the highest ethical standards whose only concern is for their financial aid recipients and not padding their or their school’s pockets.