GW Not for Profit is proud to join the Progressive Student Union, the GW Roosevelt Institute, DC Jobs with Justice, the College Democrats, Fossil Free GW, and the Feminist Student Union, as we ask the University to disclose the details of its agreements with banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions. You can read the full text of the coalition's letter on our website.
Financial institutions paid $83 million in 2009 to universities, encouraging them to market their companies’ student loan, credit, debit, and checking products to students. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report, outlining the concerns that these agreements may not always serve student best interests.
The student letter, signed by GWNFP, cites the advice of Richard Cordray, CFPB’s Director, who contended in December that:
“[S]tudents and their families should know if their school, whether well-intentioned or not, is being compensated to encourage students to use a specific account or card product. When financial institutions secretly give kickbacks to schools, they are engaging in risky practices.”
The only such disclosures GW is required to make are those pertaining to college credit cards, as per the terms of the CARD Act, so it’s important to note that GW has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of any other compensation from financial institutions. The National Association of College and University Business Officers, of which GW is a member, has also suggested that its member universities publicly release details of their compensation from banks.
We believe in the importance of financial transparency at every level of GW’s operation, and that includes agreements with credit card companies.
One of the jobs of a college is to give students a firm foundation upon which to base their future. Putting a nineteen-year-old at a financial disadvantage right from the start—simply because they didn’t realize that opening a particular banking account or using a certain debit card dumps higher fees upon them while rewarding the university who peddled it—runs completely counter to that.
A college may be run on the tuition dollars of its students, but an institution of higher learning should not also run on hidden fees. If GW has any such partnerships, we ask that their details be made publicly known, so students can make the most informed decisions possible.