Student-Aid Group Announces Finalists in Presidential Search

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has selected three finalists in the search for its next president and chief executive, the group announced on Thursday. The finalists are Joan Crissman, the group’s interim president; Justin Draeger, its vice president for public policy and advocacy; and Michael Angulo, executive director and chief executive of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.

The association decided to release the names of finalists in order to "keep members involved and ensure the highest level of openness and transparency," according to its news release.

The organization’s former president, Philip R. Day Jr., stepped down last summer after the San Francisco district attorney accused him of misspending public funds in his previous job as chancellor of City College of San Francisco. He has pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts in the case.

Mr. Day, who succeeded the association’s longtime president, Dallas Martin, in 2007, was supposed to help it regain prominence in policy debates and repair the group’s image after a scandal over conflicts of interests between lenders and financial-aid professionals. Instead, the association was under interim leadership when legislation to overhaul the federal student-loan system was being debated, and ultimately signed into law last month.

In its next president, the association is looking for an individual "with high integrity, who can put us back in the forefront of student-aid advocacy," said Barry Simmons, the association’s national chair.

Ms. Crissman has worked at the association for over 30 years and has led the association since Mr. Day stepped down, and Mr. Draeger joined the organization in 2006.

Mr. Angulo was running the New Jersey student-aid agency when its arrangements with lenders were investigated by the state’s attorney general a few years ago. The New Jersey investigation took place at the time when relationships between lenders and colleges were under intense scrutiny.

For years, the lenders Sallie Mae and Nelnet paid a premium to the New Jersey agency in return for its marketing them as preferred lenders to colleges in the state. The agency then used the money to provide support to colleges. Between 2001 and 2007, Sallie Mae alone paid $14-million as part of that arrangement. The agency ended the practice in 2007, and the following year reached an agreement with the attorney general to not do so again.

"I’m honored to be considered for the position at Nasfaa," Mr. Angulo said. "In regards to the investigation in the past, I’m happy the historical record shows there was nothing inappropriate or wrong committed at the agency."

Mr. Simmons, who is director of scholarships and financial aid at Virginia Tech, said that Nasfaa is "aware of the issues in New Jersey."

"In looking at all the background vetting that has been done and evidence out there, people can make their own conclusions," he said. "But I’m confident there’s no issue for Nasfaa."


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