The headline in today’s paper sounded innocent: Hopkins to Give $1m for Financial Aid Awareness. Goodness knows, young people in this country need better instruction on how the financial marketplace works, from credit cards to mortgages to balancing a checkbook. (They need similar advice about how to select their careers, but that’s another story). So Johns Hopkins University’s plan sounds good.
Reading further, the storyline gets more complicated. Maryland-based Johns Hopkins is taking this step as a result of an agreement with New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo who conducted a nationwide investigation of the student loan industry and found some alleged irregularities at some campuses, including Hopkins. Mr. Cuomo testified about this investigation a few weeks ago. Rather than dispute Cuomo’s standing to even bring such a suit against a Maryland university, Hopkins has thrown in the the towel and, according to the article, agreed to:
give $562,500 each to Cuomo’s fund for educating students and families about financial aid and a similar effort headed by Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler.
While lauding the end product, I wonder about the process that produced it. Does anyone else think it’s good for state AGs to be conducting nationwide campaigns? Isn’t their first and foremost responsibility to enforce the laws of their home states?
Moreover, what about this: the money goes into “Cuomo’s fund”. I can’t find any specific information about this fund. Does Mr. Cuomo control it? How much of the money goes for administrative overhead and how much directly to students? What independent fiduciary rules are in place? Is it partisan with only allies of Mr. Cuomo in charge? What benchmarks are in place to ensure that it is a result-oriented program? Most of all, is it right for any attorney general to use his or her legal clout to direct university money into a pet project? That really caught my attention. What do you think about this?
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