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Code of Conduct

 

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to prohibit conflicts of interest in situations involving student financial aid and to establish standards of conduct for employees with responsibility for student financial aid.

II. Applicability

This policy applies to all employees who work in the Office of Financial Aid and all other College employees who have responsibilities related to education loans or other forms of student financial aid. 1

III. Definitions

A. Conflict of Interest: 

A conflict of interest exists when an employee’s financial interests or other opportunities for personal benefit may compromise, or reasonably appear to compromise, the independence of judgment with which the employee performs his/her responsibilities at the College.

B. Gift: 

Any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimum amount. The term includes a gift of services, transportation, lodging, or meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred. The term “gift” does not include any of the following:1. Standard materials, activities, or programs on issues related to a loan, default aversion, default prevention, or financial literacy, such as a brochure, a workshop, or training.2. Training or informational materials furnished to the College as an integral part of a training session that is designed to improve the service of a lender, guarantor, or servicer of educational loans to the College, if such training contributes to the professional development of the College’s employees.3. Favorable terms, conditions, and borrower benefits on an education loan provided to a student employed by the College or an employee who is the parent of a student if such terms, conditions, or benefits are comparable to those provided to all students of the College and are not provided because of the student’s or parent’s employment with the College.4. Entrance and exit counseling services provided to borrowers to meet the College’s responsibilities for entrance and exit counseling under federal law, so long as the College’s employees are in control of the counseling, and such counseling does not promote the products or services of any specific lender.5. Philanthropic contributions to an institution from a lender, servicer, or guarantor of education loans that are unrelated to education loans or any contribution from any lender, guarantor, or servicer that is not made in exchange for any advantage related to education loans.6. State education grants, scholarships, or financial aid funds administered by or on behalf of a state.

C. Opportunity pool loan: 

A private education loan made by a lender to a student attending the College or the family member of such a student that involves a payment, directly or indirectly, by the College of points, premiums, additional interest, or financial support to such lender for the purpose of such lender extending credit to the student or the family.

D. Revenue-sharing arrangement: 

An arrangement between the College and a lender under which (a) a lender provides or issues a loan to students attending the College or to their families; and (b) the College recommends the lender or the loan products of the lender and in exchange, the lender pays a fee or provides other material benefits, including revenue or profit sharing, to the College or its employees.

IV. Institutional Policy Regarding Education Loans and Student Financial Aid

The College will not enter into any revenue-sharing arrangement with any lender.

A. Revenue-Sharing Arrangements

B. Interaction with Borrowers

When participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the College will not assign a first-time borrower’s federal loan, through award packaging or other methods, to a particular lender. The College will not refuse to certify, or delay certification of, any federal loan based on the borrower’s selection or a particular lender or guaranty agency. When participating in the Federal Direct Loan Program, the College may assign a first-time borrower’s federal loan to the Federal Government as the lender. Under no circumstances will the College assign a student’s private student loan to a particular lender, or refuse to certify or delay certification of any private loan, based upon the borrower’s selection of lender or guaranty agency.

C. Private Loans

The College will not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans 2, including funds for an opportunity pool loan, to students in exchange for the College providing concessions or promises regarding providing the lender with (i) a specified number of federal loans; (ii) a specified federal loan volume; or (iii) a preferred lender arrangement for federal loans.

D. Co-Branding

The College will not permit a private educational lender 3 to use the College’s name, emblem, mascot, logo, or any other words, pictures, or symbols associated with the College to imply endorsement of private educational loans by that lender.

E. Staffing Assistance

The College will not request or accept from any lender any assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing. Nothing in this section, however, prevents the College from accepting assistance from a lender related to (i) professional development training for its staff; (ii) providing educational counseling materials, financial literacy materials, or debt management materials to borrowers, provided that such materials disclose to borrowers the identification of any lender that assisted in preparing or providing such materials; or (iii) staffing services on a short-term, nonrecurring basis to assist the College with financial aid-related functions during emergencies, including State-declared or federally declared natural disasters, federally declared national disasters, and other localized disasters and emergencies identified by the Secretary of Education.

V. Code of Conduct

A. Conflicts of Interest

1. No employee shall have a conflict of interest with respect to any education loan or other student financial aid for which the employee has responsibility.2. No employee may process any transaction related to his/her own personal financial aid eligibility or that of a relative.4

B. Gifts

No employee may accept any gift from a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans. A gift to a family member of an employee or to any other individual based on that individual’s relationship with the employee shall be considered a gift to the employee if the gift is given with the knowledge and acquiescence of the employee and the employee has reason to believe the gift was given because of the employee’s position at the College. Token awards from professional associations (state, regional, or national) that recognize professional milestones or extraordinary service to parents and students, or scholarships for conference attendance or other professional development opportunities, may be accepted.

C. Prohibited Contracting Arrangements

No employee shall accept from any lender or affiliate of any lender any fee, payment, or other financial benefit (including the opportunity to purchase stock) as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.

D. Advisory Board Compensation

No employee who serves on an advisory board, commission, or group established by a lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors may receive anything of value from the lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors in return for that service.

E. Reimbursement of Expenses

Expenses incurred while attending professional association meetings, conferences, or in connection with service on an advisory board, commission, or group described in Section V.D. of this Policy must be paid by the College.5

F. Meals

Employees may occasionally need to share meals with employees of lenders, guaranty agencies, the State of Michigan, or other colleges or universities in the course of business. Meals offered as a part of meetings, conferences, or other events may be accepted if all participants in the meeting or event are offered the meals or if the meals are included as a part of a registration fee.

VI. Policy Violations

Violations of this Policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

VII. History

This Policy was issued by the Office of the President on February 1, 2009.

  • Agents of the College with responsibility for education loans or other student financial aid are also expected to abide by the terms of this Policy.
  • As defined in the federal Truth in Lending Act, 15 UCSA §1631 et seq.
  • As defined in the federal Truth in Lending Act, 15 UCSA §1631 et seq.
  • For the purposes of this Policy, a “relative” is defined as an individual with whom an employee has a relationship by blood, marriage, adoption, domestic partnership, or other personal relationship in which objectivity might be impaired.
  • Entertainment expenses such as concert or sports tickets or green fees may not be accepted. Employees are expected to personally pay for such expenses or request reimbursement from the College in accordance with College policy.

VIII. Financial Aid Fraud Policy

Adrian College refers applicants who are suspected of having engaged in fraud or other criminal misconduct in connection with Title IV programs to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General. The regulations require only that the institution refer the suspected case for investigation, not that it reach a firm conclusion about the propriety of the applicant’s conduct.As stewards of Title IV funds, Adrian College is obligated to assure that processes are developed to protect against fraud by either applicants or staff. All financial aid staff are responsible for detecting and reporting fraud. If, in the financial counselor’s judgement, the applicant and his/her family have provided a fraudulent application or documentation, it must be reported immediately to a supervisor. The Office of Financial Aid must identify and resolve discrepancies in the information received from different sources with respect to a student’s application for Title IV aid. Some of these areas include but are not limited to:

  • All student aid applications (e.g., federal, state, institutional, etc.)
  • Need analysis documents [e.g., Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and Student Aid Reports (SARs)]
  • Copies of federal and state income tax returns
  • Information regarding a student’s citizenship
  • Previous educational experience (e.g., school credentials such as a high school diploma)
  • Documentation of the student’s Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Other factors relating to the student’s eligibility for funds under Title IV aid programs (e.g., compliance with the Selective Service registration requirement)

In the context of the financial aid office, fraud is the willful misrepresentation or falsification of information for the purpose of securing financial aid that the individual is not eligible for or not eligible to the extent received. Title IV fraud can take many forms, including but not limited to the following:

  • Falsified documents or forged signatures on an application, verification documents, or loan promissory notes
  • False statements of income
  • False statements of citizenship
  • Use of false or fictitious names or aliases, addresses, or SSNs, including the deliberate use of multiple SSNs
  • False claims of independent status
  • Patterns of misreported information from one year to the next

Referrals to the Office of Inspector General. If the school suspects that a student, employee, or other individual has misreported information and/or altered documentation to increase student aid eligibility or to fraudulently obtain federal funds, it must report those suspicions and provide any evidence to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General.

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