Sunday, September 23, 2007

Student loan settlement

Hartford (WTNH) _ College presidents from 17-schools in Connecticut came together to say there is no loan scandal going on in the state.

The presidents of the colleges agreed today to a 'Financial Aid Code of Conduct' that would prohibit schools and financial aid staff from accepting gifts from lending institutions.

Three Connecticut colleges, Trinity College, Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, also announced today they had agreed to donate a total of about $75,000 to scholarship funds to settle allegations they received benefits in exchange for giving preferred lender status to the student loan company, The College Board, Inc.

Like thousands of other parents, John Westman was helping his daughter Carly move in to a college dormitory this week. At Trinity, with tuition and board hovering around $50,000 a year, financial guidance from the school is a necessity for most parents.

"We shared our financial information. They were able to do an analysis and then offered some help for us in terms of loan, grants and work study," said Westman.

"The preferred lender list is of huge practical importance as are these loans to the students that they serve," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

No one at Trinity received a bribe or a personal benefit.

"In the case of Trinity, a very slight reduction in software that we got from The College Board," said Trinity College president, James Jones.

One person at Fairfield University got a trip to Amelia Island, Florida.

"That person was invited to a conference on the financial aid topic that were often sponsored by some of the lenders. Obviously that is not something that will continue," said Fairfield University president, Reverend Jeffrey von Arx.

Representatives at all three schools say that students were not financially harmed in any way.

"What we found is that The College Board offered our students at least as good a deal as anybody else, and in most cases, a better deal," said Sacred Heart University president, Anthony Cernera.

The code of conduct will require that schools develop documents listing preferred lenders and how those lenders were selected. The documents will also let parents and students know that they have the right to select a lender of their choice.

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