College Financial Aid Directors Are Dropping Like Flies

Columbia University has finally fired their director of undergraduate financial aid, David Charlow, after suspending him over “questionable financial ties” to Student Loan Xpress. Excerpts of emails from Charlow to executives at Student Loan Xpress published in the New York Post show Charlow conspiring to assist SLX in marketing to Columbia students. Charlow owns stock in the company and served as their adviser. “I want by its design to lead the students to [the] best decision in an idiot-proof way,” Charlow said in an email to SLX.

The New York Times also published an account of the email exchanges, our personal favorite was when Charlow requested that SLX executives write a rebuttal to charges that he was accepting kickbacks. SLX replied to Charlow:

“Great idea on rebuttle. I will get right on it. You will come out sqeeky clean.”

A similar fate has befallen the financial aid director at Johns Hopkins, Ellen Frishberg. She also has ties to SLX, and joined in yesterday’s resignation party. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in response,

“While our investigation has uncovered many dirty secrets of the college loan industry, the stock and money that Student Loan Xpress funneled to Charlow and Frishberg were among the most flagrant. At times, it seems that Charlow and Frishberg were working more for Student Loan Xpress than for their universities.”


Columbia Fires Its Director of Student Aid [NYT]
Columbia Financial Aid Director Fired in Loan Scandal [Gothamist]
(Photo: Russell)


Edit Your Comment

  1. matdevdug says:

    For those of us that live and die on student loans this is really scary stuff.

  2. Namrepus says:

    I’ve been getting phone calls every day from people saying they can save me money on my student loans.

    I’ve told them repeatedly “No, I am not interested”

    I even had one woman tell me on the phone “We will try contacting you again tommorow” even after I said I wasn’t interested in their services.

    Don’t these folks follow the Do-Not-Call list cause I’ve never had any previous contact with them and these are unsolicited phone calls.

  3. silencedotcom says:

    Fuck you, student loans!

  4. catnapped says:

    Is there any industry that isn’t infested with crooks?

  5. CaptainConsumer says:

    Oh come on people, they ONLY trying to catch up with the big schools in graft.

    If Columbia University and Johns Hopkins wanna start playing in New Years Day Bowl Games they’re going to have to screw over the students and taxpayers on a MUCH grander scale.

    Perchance to dream…

  6. whereismyrobot says:

    I just graduated from a MAJOR school here in Texas. I remember four years ago when I took out my first school loan, the financial aid officer suggested I pick Sallie Mae as my lender (it is a big no no to suggest someone, completely illegal) because I could forbear my loan.

    I remember thinking what a nice lady she was and I was really confused as to why everyone hated the financial aid department at our school. If I could go back in time and warn the former me, I would.

  7. CaptainConsumer says:

    See, Texas plays in big New Years Day bowl games. Lookit all that graft

    I rest my case

  8. Skiffer says:

    Who cares! Now that Sallie Mae was bought out, we don’t have to pay our loans back anymore!

    Sallie Mae: Ummm…that’s not how it works…

    *Fingers in ears* La-La-La-La I can’t hear you La-La-La

  9. MeanMachine says:

    What’s a ‘rebuttle’?

  10. Here’s a link to the Baltimore Sun article about the Hopkin’s financial aid director:

  11. lowlight69 says:

    i think it was student loans where i learned my first real lessons in life… and boy does my ass still hurt. :) seriously though, Sallie Mae were horrible, trying to work with them was beyond painful.

    i’m seriously considering going for an MBA but am scared/hesitant to deal with more student loan people.

  12. dohtem says:

    Ah, student loans! I still get unsolicited letters from people offering me great savings on my student loans. I am due to start making payments in July. Payments that rival my rent.

  13. silencedotcom says:

    @dohtem: Lucky! My payments are close to double my rent. Luckily I paid off some of the interest while I was still in school. While I was working during and out of school, I would try to mail checks for as much as I could. It helped.. although I’m not sure just exactly how much.

  14. Jproject says:

    “squeeky” made me laugh.

    In all honesty, this makes me sad. I still treat my college education as my first smart investment, but greedy and selfish university employees who are supposed to help us students just leaves me shocked speechless and saddened.

    I can only hope things aren’t so murky by the time I reach professional school. Until then, I hope more of these SOBs will get bagged, sacked, and perhaps, if deserving, some jail time.

  15. dohtem says:

    @silencedotcom: Ouch. That explains your previous comment. ;)

  16. matdevdug says:

    Personally I love the fact that I signed a loan with the Federal Government as opposed to some private lender. I don’t like having to pay back student loans but the whole federal loan system is set up beautifully. All my information is available online and all my contracts are written in English I can actually understand.

    Any student going to college today should do their best to go with a federal loan. No matter what deals are dangled in front of you, go with the federal loan system. You will be glad you did.