Several prominent colleges and universities are among the 55 institutions that received letters last month from the Education Department on account of the high proportion of their students who have taken out loans from a single lender. The letters, which also went to 23 lenders, are part of the department’s investigation of whether the colleges violated federal law by channeling borrowers to certain lenders in return for illegal inducements from the lenders.
The department sent the letters based on the suspicion that if most of a college’s lending business was handled by a single lender, it could be evidence of such violations. Forty-eight of the 55 colleges had more than 95 percent of their loan volume with one lender, and the other seven had at least 80 percent. The 23 lenders also enjoyed dominance on one or more campuses. But a department official made clear last month that “we’re not accusing them of anything illegal at this point in time.”
The department provided a list of the 55 colleges and 23 lenders in response to an open-records request from The Chronicle. Among the recipients of the letters were the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Virginia. The other colleges and universities included a number of state colleges, religious institutions, and for-profit campuses. Among the lenders were Bank of America, Bank One, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Wachovia.
The letters ask the recipients for the answers to a series of questions about any agreements, transactions, or other relationships between the colleges and the lenders. Their answers are due back at the department by November 30. —Andrew Mytelka
Update (11/26): The complete list of recipients of the letter appears in an article in today’s Chronicle.