General & Education Loan Code of Conduct
The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS), as a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) adheres to the standards established in NASFAA's "Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals", found at https://www.nasfaa.org/Statement_of_Ethical_Principles. In addition, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires institutions of higher education participating in the administration of educational loan programs to develop and publish a Code of Conduct. Any UAFS employee who has responsibilities with respect to student general financial aid and educational loans is required to comply with this Code of Conduct as outlined below.
General Financial Aid Code of Conduct
The following Code of Conduct was last updated by a vote from NASFAA's Board of Directors in November 2020, and published in January 2021. Subject to enforcement procedures that went into effect July 1, 2015, NASFAA institutional members of NASFAA will ensure that:
- No action will be taken by financial aid staff that is for their personal benefit
or could be perceived to be a conflict of interest.
- Employees within the financial aid office will not award aid to themselves or their immediate family members. Staff will reserve this task to an institutionally designated person, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- If a preferred lender list is provided, it will be compiled without prejudice and for the sole benefit of the students attending the institution. The information included about lenders and loan terms will be transparent, complete, and accurate. The complete process through which preferred lenders are selected will be fully and publicly disclosed. Borrowers will not be auto- assigned to any particular lender.
- A borrower's choice of a lender will not be denied, impeded, or unnecessarily delayed by the institution, even if that lender is not included on the institution's preferred lender list.
- No amount of cash, gift, or benefit in excess of a de minimis amount shall be accepted by a financial aid staff member from any financial aid applicant (or his/her family), or from any entity doing business with or seeking to do business with the institution (including service on advisory committees or boards beyond reimbursement for reasonable expenses directly associated with such service).
- Information provided by the financial aid office is accurate, unbiased, and does not reflect preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
- Institutional financial aid offers and/or other institutionally provided materials
shall include the following:
- Breakdown of estimated individual Cost of Attendance components, including which are direct (billed by the institution) costs vs. indirect (not billed by the institution) costs
- Clear identification and proper grouping of each type of aid offered indicating whether the aid is a grant/scholarship, loan, or work program
- Estimated net price
- Standard terminology and definitions, using NASFAA's glossary of terms
- Renewal requirements for each aid type being offered as well as next steps and financial aid office contact information
- All required consumer information is displayed in a prominent location on the institutional web site(s) and in any printed materials, easily identified and found, and labeled as "Consumer Information."
- Financial aid professionals will disclose to their institution any involvement, interest in, or potential conflict of interest with any entity with which the institution has a business relationship.
Educational Loans Code of Conduct
- UAFS does not maintain a preferred lender list for private student loans, rather UAFS provides a historical lender list as well as all lenders available through FastChoice.
- The University shall not enter into any revenue-sharing arrangement with any lender.
- No officer or employee of the University who is employed in the Financial Aid Office of the
University or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans shall solicit or accept any gift, gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimus (normal) amount from a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans.
- An employee who is employed in the Financial Aid Office of the University or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans shall not accept from any lender or affiliate of any lender any fee, payment, or other financial benefit as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.
- The University shall not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans including funds for an opportunity pool loan, to students in exchange for the University providing concessions or promises regarding providing the lender with specified loan number or volume or a preferred lender arrangement for educational loans.
- The University shall not request or accept from any lender assistance with call center staffing or Financial Aid Office staffing.
- An employee who is employed in the Financial Aid Office, or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans or other student financial aid of the University, and who serves 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, commission, or group.