Ask Mr. Ethics: Can I Award Aid to a Family Member?

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Question 

Dear Mr. Ethics,

I work in a small financial aid office at a beauty school located in a rural area. There are only two of us in financial aid, and I just learned my colleague will be out on maternity leave during award packaging time. My niece attends the school and is on financial aid. Is it ok if I work on her aid package, since she isn’t a member of my immediate family and there is no one else to do the job?

Sincerely,

No More Beauty School Dropouts

Answer

Dear NMBSD:  

NASFAA’s Code of Conduct states “Employees within the financial aid office will not award aid to themselves or their immediate family members. Staff will reserve this task to an institutionally designated person, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.” I would advise against packaging your niece’s award. I suggest you have your colleague put the package together before she goes out on leave, or empower another member of your school’s administrative team to do it. Even the appearance of conflict of interest is undesirable. Better safe, than sorry!

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Publication Date: 3/23/2015


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