After months of investigation from the State Attorney General's office, Columbia University has finally fired the director of undergraduate financial aid David Charlow yesterday. Charlow had been suspended last April when his "questionable financial ties" to a student loan company were revealed: Charlow was an adviser to Student Loan Xpress, owned stock in the company, and actively encouraged students to use Student Loan Express as a lender. Then the Post printed this excerpt from an email from Charlow to Student Loan Express's CEO Fabrizio Balestri yesterday: "I want by its design to lead the students to [the] best decision in an idiot-proof way." The best decision being Student Loan express.

The financial aid director at Johns Hopkins, Ellen Frishberg, who also had ties to Student Loan Express, resigned yesterday as well, and State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said, "While our investigation has uncovered many dirty secrets of the college loan industry, the stock and money that Student Loan Xpress funneled to Charlow and Frishberg were among the most flagrant. At times, it seems that Charlow and Frishberg were working more for Student Loan Xpress than for their universities.”

The AG's office isn't very happy with Columbia's inability to "answer a number of our significant concerns and questions" and said the criminal investigation was ongoing. Well, add the AG's office to thousands of students who are wondering why they were encouraged to use Student Loan Express. We wonder if Columbia will offer any sort of reimbursement. The Times also has more details from emails between Charlow, Columbia class of '85, and Balestri - apparently Charlow asked Student Loan Express for Allman Bros. tickets at the Beacon - and then "questioned whether the seats were good enough."

Also, from AG Cuomo, here's a brochure about "Student Lending and some fact to consider" (PDF).