ALBANY — State University of New York Chancellor John Ryan is on the board of directors of a company under investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a nationwide probe of the $85 billion student loan industry.Ryan, who announced last month that he will step down at the end of May, has been a director of CIT Group Inc. since July 2003, according to the company's Web site.Earlier this week, Cuomo's office issued a subpoena to the New Jersey-based company seeking information about stock transactions between one of its subsidiaries, Student Loan Xpress, and financial aid officers at three universities — Columbia University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California.CIT said it acquired Education Lending Group Inc., the parent company of Student Loan Xpress, in 2005, after the stock transactions took place."The reported transactions in securities of that company occurred several years prior to CIT's acquisition of the company," the company said in a statement. "We are currently seeking to determine the facts surrounding those transactions."Student Loan Xpress is listed as a preferred lender at SUNY Maritime College, where Ryan served as president after retiring from the Navy and the Naval Academy in 2002."The chancellor stands by his service on the board of the CIT group, an approved outside activity, for which he received state Ethics Commission permission on July 2, 2003 and July 7, 2005," SUNY spokesman David Henahan said in a statement.He added that Student Loan Xpress was only added to SUNY Maritime's preferred lender list in March 2006, after Ryan left.Ryan declined further comment.On Monday, all 29 four-year State University of New York campuses agreed to abide by a code of conduct written by Cuomo's office that the attorney general said will make the student loan process more fair and transparent to students and their families.As part of the code, college employees are prohibited from receiving anything of value for serving on the advisory board of any lending institution.A company SEC filing shows Ryan earned about $146,000 last year in cash, stock and options for his service on the CIT board. He is paid $340,000 a year as chancellor.Cuomo's investigators say they have found numerous arrangements that benefited schools and lenders at the expense of students. In some cases, investigators said, lenders provided all-expense-paid trips to exotic locations for college financial aid officers who directed students to the lenders.Ryan was appointed chancellor in December 2005 by the Board of Trustees controlled by then-Gov. George Pataki after serving several months as the acting chancellor. He will leave at the end of May to become president and CEO of the Center for Creative Leadership, a training company headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.Cuomo's office is investigating several other lenders, including the nation's largest student-loan provider, SLM Corp. — commonly known as Sallie Mae. Others include Citibank, Nelnet Inc., Education Finance Partners Inc., EduCap Inc. and the College Board.
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