Code of Conduct & Statement of Ethical Principles
College of The Albemarle’s (COA) Financial Aid Office staff is committed to the highest standards of professional conduct. As members of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), we adhere to their Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethical Principles. Visit the NASFAA Statement of Ethical Principles web page for more information.
At COA, we’ll never:
- Accept payment or other material benefits from any outside entity in exchange for loan referrals or preferential treatment.
- Accept gifts from any lender, guarantor or servicer of education loans. A gift is defined as any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan or other item having monetary value. A gift is not: a brochure used for default aversion or financial literacy; food, training or informational material provided as part of training to improve service; entrance or exit counseling assistance that does not promote any specific lender; or philanthropic contributions unrelated to loans, state education grants or scholarships.
- Accept consulting fees or other contractual financial benefits from a lender or provider of student loans.
- Participate in revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender.
- Assign, through award packaging or other methods, any first-time borrower’s loan to a particular lender.
- Steer borrowers to particular lenders.
- Intentionally delay certification of loans based on the borrower’s selection of a particular lender or guaranty agency.
- Accept a pool of funds from a lender, or accept offers of funds for private loans to students, in exchange for providing concessions or promises to the lender for a specific number of Federal Student Aid (FSA) loans, a specified loan volume or a preferred lender arrangement for such loans.
- Accept call center or Financial Aid Office services or staffing assistance from any lender, except under the following circumstances: professional development training for financial aid administrators; providing educational counseling materials, financial literacy materials or debt management materials to borrowers, provided that such materials disclose to borrowers the identification of any lender that assisted in preparing or providing such materials; staffing services on a short-term, nonrecurring basis to assist the institution with financial aid related functions during emergencies, including state- and federally-declared natural disasters, federally-declared national disasters, and other localized disasters and emergencies identified by the secretary of education.
- Accept compensation in exchange for appointments to advisory committees or boards of any entity involved in the processing of alternative student loans.
The Financial Aid Office will always maintain exemplary standards of professional conduct in all aspects of carrying out our responsibilities, specifically including all dealings with any entities involved in any manner in student financial aid, regardless of whether such entities are involved in a government sponsored, subsidized or regulated activity. In doing so, we are bound by the following:
- Act in accordance with the principles set forth above.
- Refrain from taking any action for personal benefit.
- Refrain from taking any action that we believe to be contrary to law, regulation, or the best interests of the students and parents we serve.
- Ensure that the information we provide is accurate, unbiased and does not reflect any preference arising from actual or potential gain.
- Remain objective in making decisions and advising COA’s administration regarding relationships with any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
- Refrain from soliciting or accepting anything of other than nominal value from any entity (other than an institution of higher education or a governmental entity such as the U.S. Department of Education) involved in the making, holding, consolidating or processing of any student loans, including anything of value (such as reimbursement of expenses) for serving on an advisory body, or as part of a training activity of or sponsored by any such entity.
- Disclose to COA’s administration any involvement with or interest in any entity involved in any aspect of student financial aid.
In addition, the Financial Aid Office agrees to be dedicated to the following ethical principles:
- Commit to removing financial barriers for those who wish to pursue postsecondary learning.
- Make every effort to assist students with financial need.
- Maintain awareness of the issues affecting students and advocate their interests at the institutional, state and federal levels.
- Support efforts to encourage students, as early as the elementary grades, to aspire to and plan for education beyond high school.
- Educate students and families through quality consumer information.
- Respect the dignity and privacy of students, and ensure the confidentiality of student records and personal circumstances.
- Ensure equity by applying all needs analysis formulas consistently across the institution’s full population of student financial aid applicants.
- Provide services that do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or economic status.
- Recognize the need for professional development, workforce development and career readiness opportunities.
- Promote the free expression of ideas and opinions, and foster respect for diverse viewpoints within the profession.
- Commit to the highest level of ethical behavior and refrain from conflicts of interest or the perception thereof.
- Maintain the highest level of professionalism, reflecting a commitment to the goals of the NASFAA.
As staff members of the Financial Aid Office, we understand that we’re prohibited from awarding financial aid to ourselves or another financial aid staff member. Staff members must be awarded via the system, or by the Director or Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.
This Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethical Principles reflects our commitment to conduct financial aid practices with integrity, free from conflicts of interest, in the interest of students. parents, and guardians, and in compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
All employees of COA’s Financial Aid Office will abide by this code as well as the mission of COA. Our employees are required to disclose any information about students they have a personal relationship with, and that they’ve made no attempts to provide funds in excess of applicable rules and regulations.