Financial Aid Lender Relations Institutional Code of Conduct
To comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) (Public Law 110-315, Section 1011) regarding ethical lender relations with institutions of higher education receiving Title IV funds or has students who participate in private educational loans. This policy specifically addresses the Integrity Provisions of the act, by providing the required "Institution Code of Conduct" for Austin Community College.
Conflict of Interest
Austin Community College strictly prohibits all officers, employees and agents of Austin Community College from having a conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest with respect to student loans or other financial aid.
Training and Compliance
Austin Community College shall administer and enforce this code of conduct by requiring all officers, employees and agents with responsibilities for student loans and financial aid to participate in annual compliance training. The Director of Financial Aid shall provide, coordinate and document this annual training.
Austin Community College strictly prohibits all personnel responsible for student loans or financial aid from receiving gifts from any lender, guarantor or servicer of educational loans.
Austin Community College personnel shall not accept or solicit any gift, favor, service, or benefit that the employee should reasonably know is offered with the intent to influence their decisions or actions. Likewise, the employees may not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any unauthorized gifts, favors, services, or other benefits from having exercised the powers and responsibilities of their official college positions.
- Employees of the Austin Community College District shall not accept gifts, either in-kind or of money, or excessive entertainment, from a vendor.
a. Gifts include any items not obviously of an advertising nature. (Gifts of an advertising nature are all those with the name of the firm affixed which have an estimated value of $25.00 or less).
b. Excessive entertainment shall include, but not be restricted to, transportation beyond district boundaries, and overnight accommodation.
- The college will not enter into any contract with an employee to sell to or purchase from the employee. The College will in no way do business with any employee acting as an individual, partner, sole proprietor, officer, or director of any firm.
The term 'gift' shall not include any of the following:
- Standard informational material related to a loan or financial literacy, such as a brochure.
- Food, refreshments, training or informational material furnished to personnel of Austin Community College as an integral part of a training session that is designed to improve the lender's service to the College, if such training contributes to the professional development of the officer, employee or agent of the College.
- Favorable terms, conditions and borrower benefits on an educational loan provided to a student employed by the College if such terms, conditions or benefits are comparable to those provided to all students.
- Entrance and exit counseling services provided to borrowers to meet the College's responsibility for entrance and exit counseling as required by section 485(b) provided that the College's staff are in control of the counseling whether in person or via electronic capabilities and such counseling does not promote the products or services of any lender.
- Philanthropic contributions that are not made for any advantage with respect to educational
- State education grants, scholarships or financial aid funds administered by or on behalf of a state.
Gifts to Family Members
A gift as defined in this policy that is given to a family member of a college personnel or a gift to any other individual based on that individual's relationship with the officer, employee or agent of the College shall be considered a gift to the officer, employee or agent if:
- the gift is given with the knowledge and acquiescence of the officer, employee or agent; and
- the officer, employee or agent has reason to believe the gift was given because of the official position of the officer, employee or agent.
Austin Community College personnel who are employed in the financial aid office or who otherwise have responsibilities with respect to educational loans or other financial aid, shall not accept from any lender or affiliate of any lender any fee, payment or other financial benefit (including the opportunity to purchase stock) as compensation for consulting services, serving on an advisory council or otherwise advising such lender or affiliate. Contracting arrangements are not prohibited if;
- An Austin Community College employee who is not employed in the Financial Aid Office and who does not otherwise have responsibilities with respect to educational loans, from performing paid or unpaid service on a board of directors of a lender, guarantor or servicer of educational loans;
An Austin Community College employee who is not employed in the Financial Aid Office and who does not otherwise have responsibilities with respect to educational loans, from performing paid or unpaid service on a board of directors of a lender, guarantor or servicer of educational loans, as long as officers, employees, or agents recuse themselves from participating in any decision of the board regarding educational loans according to the college's conflict of interest policy.
- An employee or contractor of a lender, guarantor or servicer of education loans from serving on the board of directors, or as a trustee of Austin Community College as long as that board member or trustee recuses themselves from any decision regarding education loans according to the college's conflict of interest policy.
Advisory Board Participation
Austin Community employees who are employed in the Financial Aid Office, or who otherwise have responsibilities with respect to educational loans or other student financial aid, and who serve on an advisory board, commission, or group established by a lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors, shall be prohibited from receiving anything of value from the lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors, except that the employee may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in serving on such advisory board, committee, or group.
Interaction With Borrowers
Austin Community College will not for any first-time borrower, assign, through award packaging or other methods, the borrower's loan to a particular lender; or refuse to certify, or delay certification of, any loan based on the borrower's selection of a particular lender or guaranty agency.
Austin Community College will not request or accept from any lender any assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing unless the assistance from the lender is related to:
- Professional development training for financial aid administrators
- Providing educational counseling materials, financial literacy materials, or debt management material to borrowers, provided that such materials disclose to borrowers the identification of any lender that assisted in preparing or providing such materials.
- Staffing services on a short-term, nonrecurring basis to assist the institution with financial aid – related functions during emergencies, including state-declared or federally declared natural disasters and other localized disasters and emergencies identified by the Secretary.
Opportunity Pool Loan
An opportunity pool loan is a private education loan made by a lender to a student attending Austin Community College or a family member of such a student that involves a payment, directly or indirectly by the college of points, premiums, additional interest, or financial support to such lender for the purpose of such lender extending credit to the student or the family.
Austin Community College will not request, accept or consider from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private educational loans as defined in section 140 of the Truth in Lending Act), including funds for an opportunity pool loan, to students in exchange for the College providing concessions or promises to the lender with:
- a specified number of loans made, insured or guaranteed under this title;
- a specified loan volume of such loans; or
- a preferred lender arrangement for such loans.
Austin Community College understands and recognizes that failure to comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act , specifically Section 1011 may result in sanctions imposed by the Secretary of Education that include limiting, terminating or suspending participation in title IV programs.