University of Missouri system adopts student lender guidelines

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The University of Missouri system has joined at least 11 other public and private colleges in the state that have adopted codes of conduct designed to limit favoritism when linking banks with student borrowers.

University system president Gordon Lamb announced the changes Monday, six months after Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon reached the first such agreement in the state with Washington University in St. Louis.

Those agreements follow a national investigation led by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into loan arrangements that he says favored banks and schools over students.

The idea of the code is to protect students from kickbacks lenders pay to colleges in exchange for steering students their way.

The Missouri executive order prohibits employees at the Columbia, Rolla, Kansas City and St. Louis campuses, as well as the system office, from accepting gifts beyond those of "nominal value" from lending institutions. Meals, travel, hotel stays and training costs are specifically mentioned in the new rules.

University employees will not be allowed to serve on lender advisory boards except in volunteer capacities, and disclosure requirements for preferred lenders, if used, will also be enhanced.

The changes are set to take effect July 1.

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