Monday, April 02, 2007

More on the Cuomo Settlements

So as part of Cuomo's still-ongoing probe into lenders' relationships with financial aid offices, 6 schools have agreed to reimburse students $3.27 million, Citibank is donating $2 million to a financial-industry education fund, while 29 New York State schools have simply signed codes of conduct without admitting wrongdoing.
To address some of the questions raised in the comments, I do see the quick payoff as an admission. If not overtly confessing guilt (and I agree that most lenders probably didn't break the law, as now written), it's an acknowledgement that both schools and lenders would rather that students and taxpayers hear as little about lender practices as possible. The money, frankly, is peanuts. This is an $85 billion industry which once sued the Secretary of Education. If the lenders wanted to, they could easily create a legal fund to defend themselves and every single one of the 100 schools involved.
Taking as a given the power of market forces to deliver the best prices to consumers in most circumstances, I think the incentives in the current system are messed up. Currently your financial aid officer is like a financial adviser who works on commission. He's going to try to sell you the financial products that give him the best commission, as well as making you happy.
Or a real estate buyer's broker. She's never going to get you the absolute best price, says economist Steven Levitt, because lowering your price lowers her commission too.


Anonymous said...

How do we take action to bypass the penuts offered to us by this $85 Billion dollar industry.

Great post though, keep us updated on where this goes. Its scary that our education system is starting to force young people to rely so much on debt. The possiblity of going through a serious round of loan hunting before embarking on an educational career feels somehow innapporpriate as well, however.

Anonymous said...

Finally Citibank pays. Here's a good article about student credit card debt. It's written by a guy who's petitioning people in Illinois about this kind of stuff.