Yes, Colleges Still Have Money to Loan

Financial Aid_College

Even during tough economic times, colleges and universities have the means to tap into funds that have been reserved for a “rainy day.” Take Ohio State University, for example. Faced with the possibility of decreased enrollment due to lack of financial aid to many students, Ohio State University tapped into the school’s emergency fund back in 2008 to move roughly $1 million into a program that provides students with emergency short-term loans. The loan amounts ranged from $100 up to $1,000. OSU took it’s mission to help young people pursue their dreams and earn a degree a step further by guaranteeing that tuition would not be raised midway through the 2008-2009 school year. The university went on to promise that if tuition rose for the 2009-2010 school year, financial aid would increase in lockstep.

Ohio State University is not alone in its quest to provide financially strapped students with emergency University backed loans. Universities currently loan more than $1.5 billion out of the $66 billion in new federal student loans, to students. As of 2006, more than 157 participated in School as Lender (SAL) programs. Among the more than 157 participating SAL schools are:

  • Akron University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Des Moines University
  • DeVry University
  • Emory University
  • Loyola University of Chicago
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Palmer College of Chiropractic
  • Parker College of Chiropractic
  • Southern Methodist University
  • St. Louis University
  • Touro College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of Phoenix
  • Walden University
  • Widener University in Pennsylvania

Wellesley_College_campus

While roughly a third of schools use institutional funds to finance student loans, other schools partner with a commercial or nonprofit lending institution to establish a line of credit. Once the line of credit is established, the schools offer loans directly to graduate, law, and medical students, often placing themselves on the list of lenders the school recommends. The schools hold the loans for a certain period of time, typically two to three months after the money has been fully disbursed to the students/borrowers. During that time, the school collects interest, plus the government subsidies provided to lenders in the federally guaranteed student-loan program. The schools then sell the portfolio back to the banks for the agreed-upon premium.

 Status of the School as Lender Program

While many universities have money for loans from funds taken directly from their own savings, universities that have partnered with a commercial or nonprofit lending institution to establish a line of credit might be in trouble. For starters, schools acting as lenders are constantly being scrutinized in order to help protect students and borrowers against unscrupulous practices. And although $1.5 billion is a small slice of the more than $66 billion in new federal student loans, the federal government doesn’t want the SAL program to undercut federal student loan programs. Schools operating as lenders in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) should keep in mind that current federal regulations require guarantors to conduct reviews of certain schools that act as lenders. According to federal regulations 34CFR 682.401(c), guarantors must conduct program reviews of lenders that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The volume of FFELP loans made or held by the lender and guaranteed by the guarantor equaled at least 2 percent of the total loans guaranteed by that guarantor in the preceding year.
  • The lender is one of the 10-largest lenders of loans guaranteed by that guarantor in that year.
  • The lender’s FFELP volume was at least $10 million in the most-recent fiscal year.

Currently, SAL programs are still in place, but according to Part B, Section 436 of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the Senate amendment terminates authority for the school as lender program, effective June 30, 2012.

  

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