- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2010

I could not agree more with your contention that the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act “is a bad idea because it takes away consumer choice” (“Academic malpractice,” Editorials, Feb. 18). The elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program would force all private and public universities and colleges to use exclusively the Direct Loan Program.

As the nation’s only state-owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) has as its mission to assist the state with its economic-development efforts. We do this with a variety of financing programs, many of which are done through private-sector participation. We believe that an educated workforce is key to our state’s success. Many years ago, we determined that providing students with financing opportunities to attend an institution of higher learning fits within our mission. In fact, we made the first federally insured student loan in the nation more than 42 years ago.

BND now originates 70 percent of all student-loan volume for the state’s colleges and universities through Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) and supplemental loan programs. We firmly believe the customer service we provide could not be matched by federal contractors trying to service a multibillion-dollar industry. In addition, 42 years of program development and work with financial aid directors, high school counselors and state residents to navigate the financial aid landscape would be at risk. If we were excluded from the student-loan process, it would jeopardize long-standing programs to prevent default and encourage financial literacy and debt management. It could eliminate college planning resources and put college access initiatives at risk - all things that have been financed through our operations at BND.

We are proud of our 90-year history and commitment to the economic success of North Dakota. Sen. Kent Conrad supports our mission and appreciates the work we have done on behalf of the state’s constituency. We look forward to working with him to protect the best interests of North Dakota’s residents.


President, Bank of North Dakota

Bismarck, N.D.

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