Morrison’s office probes student loan scheme

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office says it will look into colleges’ student-lending practices to determine whether the kinds of kickbacks uncovered nationwide are happening here.

“We’re trying to determine how lenders get onto ‘preferred lender lists,’ who’s on them … and if there are any situations where there is compensation or gifts,” Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Paul Morrison, said Friday.

The $87 billion student-lending industry has been under the microscope nationwide in recent weeks, with allegations that schools have received compensation to steer students to particular lenders, even if it’s not in the student’s best interests.

Anstaett said the office has decided to send out questionnaires and letters to Kansas schools, starting with the state’s regents universities.

“I think it’s something that’s been coming for a while. There’s been a lot of attention nationally to this issue, so we’re trying to do it in an unhostile way,” she said.

Washburn University financial aid director Anita Huff said she thinks the business works differently in Kansas than in other parts of the country because of “Midwestern ethics.” Asked whether she thought Kansas students have suffered because of schools’ relationships with lenders here, Huff said, “Absolutely not.”