Jun 08, 2007
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Friday, June 8 , 2007
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PHEAA Spends More Than $400,000 in Legal Fees to Cover Lavish Expenses

By Brooke Heath

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) spent more than $400,000 in legal fees in an effort to keep its travel expenses out of the public eye. Nevertheless, last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered PHEAA to disclose the same information that it spent more than $409,000 to keep hidden.

According to The Express-Times, the legal fees were paid to two law firms to defend PHEAA in a court battle against The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, The Associated Press, and Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV. The battle began when the media organizations requested PHEAA's travel-expense records in 2005.

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Massachussets Governor Proposes Free Attendance to Community Colleges

By Brooke Heath

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) announced new public education plans for his state at the University of Massachusetts-Boston commencement ceremony. This proposal would allow all Massachusetts high school graduates to attend the state's community colleges free of charge for two years.

The proposal is part of Patrick's vision for a "cradle-to-career" public education. According to Channel 7 News in Boston, the governor's plan also includes lengthening the school day by at least two hours, lengthening the school year, creating a universal pre-kindergarten program, strengthening curriculum requirements in math and English, and launching new teacher training programs.

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Spitzer signs student loan reform into law

New York has become the first state to protect students and their families from abusive practices in student loan industry. Governor Eliot Spitzer signed legislation to this effect transforming the SLATE Act into law. The legislation will halt all controversial conflict-of-interest practices rampant in the student loan industry. These practices include lenders bribing college employees, lenders posing as school employees, and lenders giving donations to schools in exchange for student loanees, etc. The legislation was the outcome of a probe initiated by Spitzer when he was state attorney general followed up by his successor, the present Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

NASFAA announces Code of Conduct

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) issued its "Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals." Declaring this, Dallas Martin, the president of NASFAA, and Andrew Cuomo, the NY Attorney General, said the Code of Conduct was developed and unanimously approved by the NASFAA's Board of Directors. It was developed in collaboration with the Attorney General's Office in NY to guide loan administrators in ensuring blemish-free policies and practices. NASFAA already has its own "Statement of Ethical Principles," adopted in 1999. These principles provided all its members with specific standards of conduct that they should follow as professionals. The new six-point code is an expansion of these principles.

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