Under criticism that it has been lax in policing the $85 billion student loan industry, the federal Education Department announced yesterday that the chief official responsible for overseeing the loan program is stepping down, the New York Times reports. The resignation of the official, Theresa S. Shaw, was made public two days before Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is to testify to a Congressional committee. Spellings is expected to face tough questions about the oversight of lenders’ practices and her department’s enforcement of policies against conflicts of interest. Investigations by lawmakers and by attorneys general have uncovered evidence that lenders paid colleges and universities in exchange for loan volume and gave financial aid officials gifts, trips, consulting arrangements, or stock. In addition, the department last month temporarily restricted access to a database of personal financial information on millions of student borrowers out of concern that it was being improperly used for marketing …


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