Letter to the Editor

BY

To the Editor:

Recently many newspapers have reported that many Universities have given advantages to private lenders, with dire consequences to overcharged students who must borrow to pay for increases in tuition that have often outpaced inflation. Obviously the students suffer as a result. The Harvard Crimson Staff warned Harvard University about such arrangements on October 31, 2006, in an article called “Harvard’s financial aid offices must protect students.” In this article the Crimson Staff warned, “…while Harvard Law School (HLS) offers international students direct loans through the HLS Loan Program, the CitiAssist loan through the Harvard Education Loan Program and Citibank Staffford loans are also advertised prominently on the HLS Web site…” The same article stated, “…HLS Assistant Director of Financial Aid Denise Ryan, [] maintains that ‘we list Citibank because they have very favorable Stafford terms.'” Later the article stated, “When asked why more comprehensive loan comparison data isn’t available in a brochure or on the HLS Web site, Ryan cited time and space limitations, saying that ‘we just don’t have it put together.'” The Crimson Staff strongly warned the University that, “Yet the fact stands that the only private lender listed by many of Harvard’s schools on their financial aid Web sites is Citibank….First, the graduate schools ought to compile and distribute data about private lenders unprivileged by preferred status; and second, a written policy should be published on financial aid Web sites stating that the University and its officials will reject kickback payments and other gifts.”

Well, I guess I agree with the Crimson Staff; and we all must wonder what the administration of the Harvard Law School has been thinking and doing? Who knows if the poor overcharged students could have saved more money if they had more information provided by other lenders? Who knows if the lenders would have charged the students less? Makes one wonder if the students, who are now saddled with a decade of high debt, will consider a class action lawsuit against the University? It makes you wonder why the financial aid office at HLS … “just don’t have it put together.” It just makes you wonder why the Crimson Staff had to point out the obvious to the HLS leadership? It makes you wonder…

Reform of the HLS leadership is long overdue. Protection of the students from private lenders should be the first priority of the financial aid office. Competition lowers prices; actions that reduce competition raise prices…or so we learned in Economics 101…

Respectfully submitted,Charles Facktor (HLS ’90)

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