UM System interim president outlines student loan policies

Monday, October 22, 2007 | 7:29 p.m. CDT; updated 4:11 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — MU employees who assist students with getting loans have been barred from working for a lending company or accepting money or gifts from loan agencies under an executive order signed Monday by the UM System interim president.

The order parallels the voluntary code of conduct that the state attorney general has been urging colleges and universities to agree to since March.

A UM System news release said that Interim President Gordon Lamb issued the executive order, which will be added to MU’s Collected Rules and Regulations, but makes no direct mention of Attorney General Jay Nixon’s code of conduct agreement.

The executive order outlines eight tenants of a proper student loan relationship; four of the student loan provisions comprise the Attorney General’s Code of Conduct. The code prohibits kickbacks to schools, requires information disclosures about preferred lenders and limits school employees’ participation on lender advisory boards.

“This executive order will boost confidence that the university uses the best practices, while enhancing clarity and consistency in student lending practices across our four campuses,” Lamb said, according to the release.

Nixon’s office spokesman Scott Holste said the attorney general’s office has been working with the UM System for a few months and is happy that Lamb made the executive order.

“It mirrors the agreements made with other schools,” Holste said.

Holste said the addition of the UM System means that most of the state’s larger higher education institutions have agreed to some form of the code of conduct.

Twenty-six Missouri colleges and universities have reached similar agreements with the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general drafted the code of conduct agreement after New York’s state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, began a national investigation into the relationship between student loan lenders and universities nationwide.

Lamb’s executive order provisions include:

n Prohibiting UM System officials, employees or agents from accepting anything of more than “nominal value” from or on behalf of a lending institution.

n Barring MU from accepting anything of value from a lending institution to give that institution any advantage related to student lending.

n Limiting participation by UM System employees on advisory boards for student lending institutions.

n Imposing and clarifying disclosure requirements and rules for being considered a “preferred lender” for students by any of the UM System.

n Prohibiting student lending institutions from providing staffing at UM System financial aid offices.

n Barring so-called “opportunity loans” or any similar arrangement or practice, in which a lender provides loans that it would not otherwise make available, based on receiving favorable amounts of business from a school’s students.

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