BOG committee approves new restrictions on student lending

A Board of Governors (BOG) committee approved rules barring university and financial aid staffers from accepting money or gifts from loan companies Wednesday.

During the BOG meeting in Orlando, the Student Affairs Committee approved the Student Loan Practices Code of Conduct.

The code – spearheaded by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum – was developed in reaction to national scandals regarding student lender practices.

According to the brief that was circulated to the BOG Student Affairs Committee along with the code, the guidelines prevent a university from accepting “anything of value from a lending institution in exchange for any advantage or consideration provided to the lender related to its student loan activities.”

With the code now approved by the committee, it will go before the full board today. Bill Edmonds, director of communications for the BOG, said the code will “without a doubt” be approved by the full board.

“This is a problem that happened nationally. We did not have a problem here in Florida among the State University System (SUS),” Edmonds said.

Edmonds said the controversy did not cross the border into Florida.

An article in Tuesday’s St. Petersburg Times, however, reported that it had, claiming abuses committed at various private universities in Florida and at Florida State University.

The article claims FSU aid director Darryl Marshall “accepted free flights and lodging to attend lender advisory board meetings, including one advisory board where other directors were later fired from their jobs for holding stock in the company.”

Edmonds hopes the new code will boost student and parent trust in the student loan system.

“The attorney general for the state of Florida worked with leadership in SUS to develop this code of conduct so that parents and students would have full confidence in the advice and information that they get from their universities in regard to student loans,” he said.