The Johns Hopkins University announced on April 25
that it is adopting the code of conduct proposed by the New
York attorney general to govern the relationship between
universities and student loan companies.
The university also said it has canceled all lists of
suggested lenders compiled for students and their families
by its various student financial aid offices.
The announcements were included in the university's
response to inquiries from the office of New York Attorney
General Andrew M. Cuomo.
The university and the attorney general were informed
April 9 by CIT Group, parent company of Student Loan
Xpress, that SLX had paid about $65,000 in tuition for or
consulting fees to the director of one of Johns Hopkins'
financial aid offices. SLX is listed on some of the
university's lender lists.
Johns Hopkins immediately placed the financial aid director, Ellen
Frishberg, on administrative leave with pay. Frishberg has
headed the office that serves students in the university's
schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering.
Though the university's inquiry is not complete and
Frishberg remains on administrative leave, the university
has made initial policy decisions regarding future
relationships with companies that make loans to students
and their families.
"Johns Hopkins is absolutely committed to a financial
aid program that serves students' best interests and meets
the highest ethical standards," said President William R.
Brody. "The actions the university is announcing today are
intended to ensure that we meet that commitment."
First, the university has adopted the College Loan
Code of Conduct proposed by the attorney general. The code,
available online at
http://tinyurl.com/24m5pz, requires, in part, that
university employees be prohibited from accepting anything
of more than nominal value from lenders.
Second, all seven financial aid offices that serve
Johns Hopkins' nine schools and nearly 20,000 students have
canceled all lender lists. The university said it would not
issue any new lists of loan companies until there is a
national consensus on standards for lists that are free of
conflict of interest and serve the best interests of
students. Johns Hopkins said it would continue to process
loans from any lender a student or family chooses.
Johns Hopkins' inquiry to date has found no evidence
that any university official was aware of the consulting
fees or tuition payments that Student Loan Xpress made to
or on behalf of Frishberg from 2002 to 2006, the university
said. The university said it has found no evidence to date
that any student has been harmed by the inclusion of SLX on
its lender lists.
Frishberg had disclosed to the university that she
served on an SLX advisory board and that SLX had reimbursed
her for expenses related to that service. In a recent
meeting with university attorneys, she reported that she
had consulted for other companies. The university is now
investigating those relationships. Beyond service on
advisory boards, the university said it has found no
evidence to date that Frishberg had previously alerted
Johns Hopkins officials to information that would suggest
that her private consulting or other relationships with
lenders might cause potential conflicts of interest.
The university said it has found no evidence of any
lender payments to Johns Hopkins in return for placement on
any lender list or as compensation for loans to Johns
The university did identify two contracts, one of
which ended in 2004, in which a university financial aid
office agreed to place a company on a lender list as part
of that company's agreement to provide loans to the
university's international students. Some lenders,
including SLX, have occasionally paid for meals or
entertainment for employees of Johns Hopkins financial aid
offices at professional conferences or for meals during
campus visits, the university said. SLX paid during this
academic year for a lender list brochure distributed by one
of the university's financial aid offices. The university
has discontinued use of that brochure along with all lender