EDITORIAL: Welcome to the real world

An ongoing student loan scandal, affecting schools in New York, Pennsylvania and several other states, has been dominating the news cycle in recent weeks. Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York, has led an investigation into the $85 billion student loan industry in hopes of enacting reforms. It has been made apparent that his investigation was not frivolous.

As of April 24, Cuomo has reached settlements with 15 universities – including NYU and Penn – and several financial aid lenders worth roughly $10 million, according to USA Today. Cuomo is also planning a lawsuit against Drexel University. Furthermore, the article reports, this has led to the firing or suspension of six financial aid officials around the country and the suspension of a top official in the U.S. Education Department. So what was the problem?

According to USA Today, roughly 90 percent of students take out student loans from lenders on universities’ preferred lenders lists. The problem lies in the fact that the financial aid officers and officers of the offending institutions received kickbacks from the lending companies. These kickbacks came in the form of monetary compensation, exotic vacations and stock options for financial aid offices where students were encouraged to borrow from the preferred lenders. In some instances, USA Today reports, lenders stationed their employees in the financial aid offices of universities and went as far as representing themselves as a part of the university and not the lending company.

Villanova seniors are graduating this semester, and this story may serve as a valuable lesson to them. We are not insinuating that Villanova is involved in these loan scandals – there is no reason to believe so as there is no evidence to support such a claim – but we are cautioning all students, especially seniors to be careful.

The world is not nearly as friendly or cozy as Villanova. For better or for worse, Villanovans live and operate in their own world, which is radically different from the real world that seniors will be entering in a few weeks. In the real world, independence can be a dangerous temptation. Graduating seniors will have to take a much more active role in managing their personal finances. Living on their own, many soon-to-be alumni will be looking for new acquaintances, some are friends, others are foes. The only message that can be offered to those preparing to greet these new challenges and endeavors is be careful, good luck and congratulations, Class of 2007.