Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lenders Seeking New Ways to Access Borrowers

Over the past week InsideHigherEd has detailed the relationship between MyRichUncle and Princeton Review as well as MRU's purchase of a company called Embark. Most of the buzz around the story has to do with Princeton Review's placement of MyRichUncle as the "preferred lender" on individual college pages. This elicited an angry response from some financial aid administrators who dislike the aggressive charges leveled by MRU on financial aid practices.

InsideHigherEd went on in a subsequent article to detail the purchase of Embark and how the companies seem to have gone out of their way to hide the relationship.

Of greater interest than the back and forth between banks and schools is why a private lender is purchasing a company with such a different institutional mission. One suggestion is that it provides them access to potential borrowers. This type of "synergy" is increasingly common in the world of student lending. Nelnet owns Peterson's a test prep company, Sallie Mae owns a company the does similar application and enrollment management work to Embark.

This type of vertical integration is aimed at identifying students earlier in the college process, gaining information and even building relationships to secure their lucrative loan business.

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