Campus Progress today released to its network of student journalists and activists a step-by-step guide to probing their campus financial aid offices for conflicts of interests that damage the student loan system. The guide, “Honest Lending, Fair Lending,” comes in the wake of a groundbreaking investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and weeks of front-page newspaper disclosures about loan companies exerting apparent undue influence on colleges and college officials.
“Students have a powerful incentive to ensure that their schools direct them to loans on fair terms, rather than to lenders who have developed cozy relationships with school administrators,” said Pedro de la Torre III, a Campus Progress staff organizer. “With this guide, students and activists can review and expose campus practices and help get conflicts of interests out of college financial aid.”
Most school officials care deeply about getting students the best financial aid deal possible, but the recent investigations have found that, in many cases the $85 billion student loan system has been corrupted. Lenders aiming to land on colleges’ “preferred lender” lists have provided Caribbean junkets, scholarships, stock options and other benefits.
“When lenders compete by buying their way onto preferred lender lists, rather than through lowering their loan rates, both students and taxpayers lose,” said de la Torre.
Students already face an increasingly heavy burden of education debt upon graduation, as Campus Progress has highlighted in its ongoing Debt Hits Hard campaign. As part of that campaign, Campus Progress has advocated cutting student loan interest rates in half, ending wasteful subsidies to lenders that cost taxpayers billions, raising federal Pell Grants to $5100, and launching a public service ad campaign to raise awareness in low-income communities about financial aid resources.
The Campus Progress guide is available at http://campusprogress.org/common/1522/honest-lending-fair-lending.
Campus Progress, part of the Center for American Progress, works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists, and others — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Through an on-line magazine and student publications, public events, and grassroots issue campaigns, Campus Progress acts to empower new progressive leaders nationwide as they develop fresh ideas and communicate in new ways.