Code of Conduct for University of South Carolina Student Financial Aid Professionals
The Office of Student Financial aid and Scholarships (OSFAS) considers every aspect of the administration of student financial aid to be a vital part of either its compliant administrative responsibilities or service to students and their families, if not both. In conducting the responsibilities mandated by statute, regulation, and/or other directive as well as those associated with quality service delivery, the OSFAS adheres to the following guiding principles:
A. No action will be taken by any member of the OSFAS staff that is for their personal benefit or that could be perceived to be a conflict of interest. Staff will disclose to the appropriate office leadership and/or to the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management any involvement, interest in, or potential conflict of interest with any entity with which the University has a business relationship.
- Employees with the OSFAS will not award aid to themselves or their immediate family members. The oversight of this awarding and related activities will be assigned to a designated OSFAS staff member by the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.
- Beginning with the 2010-11 academic year, all Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans as well as all Parent and Graduate PLUS Loans are being made through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. As a result of this requirement, all relationships and related potential issues with lenders that could be related to the administration of these programs under the Federal Family Educational Loan (FFEL) Program have ceased.
- The OSFAS will continue to process private educational loans through any lender requested by the borrower without any prejudice. When appropriate, and in what is believed to be the borrower's best interest, timely communication will be initiated to help ensure that the borrower is aware of any perceived, potential issues that might arise from his or her lender selection; however, the borrower's lender choice will always be honored.
- The OSFAS will continue to maintain a professional relationship with all lenders of private educational loans with whom it has worked during recent years. In an effort to assist in the selection of a lender, a listing of all lenders from whom USC students have borrowed private educational loans in the past five years will be made available. Students wishing to borrow a private educational loan may select from this list of lenders who, to the best of OSFAS knowledge, are currently active lenders, or they may select another lender of their choice. The OSFAS will not offer any endorsement or provide any specific information about these lenders; however, it encourages students and parents to learn all they can about any lender and loan product they are considering. The provided lender list presents links through which a great deal of information should be available. The OSFAS staff will continue to respond to specific questions about any lenders listed to the extent of their knowledge. It is generally best for a borrower to continue with the same lender for all private educational loan borrowing.
- The OSFAS and staff will never request or accept anything of value from any lender in exchange for any advantage related to loan volume, assigned placement on any lender listing, or any similar activity or benefit. Income or profit sharing relationships are clearly seen by the OSFAS as inappropriate as are any types of social or entertainment related gifts. Further, the OSFAS staff will ensure that the information they provide is accurate, unbiased, and that it does not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential gain. Staff will always refrain from taking any action believed to be contrary to law, regulation, or the best interests of the students being served.
- While the staff of the OSFAS fully appreciates the value of working in consort with lenders to improve the quality of their goods and services, no individual members of the OSFAS will accept anything of value, including reimbursement for associated travel, for participation on lender advisory or governing boards.
- The OSFAS will neither request nor accept any staffing services from employees of a lender. Should there be any casual conversation between a on-campus visiting lender and a student , OSFAS officials will ensure that the lender employee does nothing to misrepresent him or herself to a student in a way that might be construed as being a representative of the University. Further, the OSFAS will never participate in the branding of private educational loans with the school's name.
B. Information provided by the OSFAS staff will be accurate, unbiased, and not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential personal gain.
C. Institutional award notifications and supporting documents will provide clear and thorough disclosures of all information pertinent to the recipient’s understanding of the factors related to his or her annual financial aid award
D. The OSFAS will ensure or encourage that all required consumer information is displayed in an easily accessible location on the institutions website(s) and that any printed materials are identifiable and distributed as appropriate.
E. While written specifically in association with the administration of Financial Aid within the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, the University of South Carolina recognizes that this code applies to all of its administration, faculty, staff, and affiliated organizations. Further, the University agrees to guard against any relationship that could be construed to reflect impropriety with regard to the administration of any financial aid by the University.