The University of Missouri has new rules that ensure the system’s financial aid offices offer students impartial advice about student loans.
The new regulations, signed by interim UM President Gordon Lamb, follow an inquiry New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, launched earlier this year, that examined financial aid practices nationwide. Cuomo began the inquiry after discovering that student loan companies were, among other things, paying travel and entertainment expenses for university officials in return for the preferential treatment of their company.
That led to a Senate bill, passed in July on a 95 to 0 vote, requiring colleges to craft codes of conduct governing their relationships with student-loan companies and “bars student lenders from giving gifts, trips or other perks to college officials.”
The new policy, “Relationships with Student Loan and Lending Institutions,” prohibits all UM employees from accepting “anything of value” from a loan company to give that company any advantage, limits participation of UM employees on advisory boards for student loan companies, and prohibits the companies from providing staff at UM financial aid offices. Also barred in the policy are “opportunity loans,” or loans that lenders make available after receiving a specific high amount of business from a school’s students.
According to Scott Charton, director of MU communications, MU and the three other UM universities have already been complying with all of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon’s rules concerning student loans and the addition of the new policy does not alter any actions occurring in the UM financial aid offices. What the new policy does do, Charton says, is create a uniform set of rules for all UM campuses to follow and reassures students and parents that the financial aid offices act out of the best interest of students.