Ellen Frishberg, director of student financial
services at the Homewood campus of The Johns Hopkins
University since 1989, has submitted her resignation, the
university said last week. Frishberg resigned on May 18,
Frishberg, who directed financial aid matters for
full-time undergraduate and graduate students in the
university's schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering,
had been on paid administrative leave since April 9.
The university learned that day from CIT Group, parent
company of Student Loan Xpress, that SLX had paid about
$65,000 in consulting fees and tuition payments to or on
behalf of Frishberg between 2002 and 2006. SLX had been
included during those years on lists of suggested lenders
distributed by Frishberg's office.
The university's investigation — including
interviews and an extensive review of documents —
found no evidence that any university official was aware of
the consulting and tuition payments from Student Loan
Frishberg did not submit written reports disclosing
the SLX consulting or tuition payments. This nondisclosure,
along with her acceptance of tuition payments, was
inconsistent with the university's ethics and
conflict-of-interest policies, the university said.
The university said that Frishberg also had performed
paid consulting work prior to 2002 for another lender,
American Express, at a time when her office recommended
American Express as a lender. The university said that,
based on the evidence it had reviewed, Frishberg had not
disclosed this relationship in a manner consistent with the
university's conflict-of-interest policy.
During the course of the investigation Frishberg
acknowledged paid consulting relationships with other
lenders as well, but these lenders had not been on a
recommended lender list issued by Frishberg's office. One
of those consulting relationships had been approved. Also,
Frishberg had earlier disclosed certain advisory committee
work. At different times Frishberg had served on advisory
committees for American Express, Sallie Mae and SLX.
The university said it found no evidence that any
student or parent borrower was harmed financially because
of any arrangement between Frishberg and a lender. The
university also said it has had no revenue-sharing
arrangements with lenders.
Since April 9, the university has adopted the code of
conduct proposed by New York Attorney General Andrew M.
Cuomo to govern the relationship between universities and
student loan companies. The university has cooperated with
Cuomo's investigation and with that of the Senate Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The university has canceled all lists of suggested
lenders compiled for students and their families by
Frishberg's office and by six other, independent financial
aid offices around the university. It said on April 25 that
it would not resume issuing such lists until "there is a
national consensus on standards for lists that are free of
conflict of interest and serve the best interests of