Columbia University has agreed to let its financial aid office monitored for five years as well as pay $1.125 million to a national fund aimed at financial aid education for students and families in a settlement with the NY State Attorney General's office. In April, AG Andrew Cuomo revealed that financial aid officials at universities had recommended with one student loan organization, as the same officials held stock or other advisory positions at the loan company. Notably, emails between the director of undergraduate admissions at Columbia, David Charlow, and Student Loan XPress were particularly damning, as well as his thousands of dollars in stock options. Charlow was fired last month.
Columbia also agreed to abide by a "College Loan Code of Conduct," which the Columbia Spectator describes as a "seven-point list of restrictions aimed at cleaning up corruption in the student loan industry." That the university, along with others, has to do that is sickening, given the various honors codes that schools have with students. Columbia's settlement, though, doesn't mean that the university admits it broke the law. From the NY Times:
Columbia said in a statement that a “longtime, well-regarded employee failed to uphold the trust that had been placed in him by the University” and that it was making changes to “make this kind of conduct a thing of the past.”
The university added that its agreement with the attorney general “specifically states that Columbia University does not admit, and expressly denies, that it has violated any law in connection with its student loan practices.”
While it's good that the Attorney General's office is making Columbia and others do more to educate students about financial aid, we wonder if students can sue the universities for their actions.