Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ pick to lead part of the Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) trillion dollar student loan system is currently the CEO of a private student loan company.
On Tuesday, June 21, DeVos’ announced her intent to appoint Dr. A. Wayne Johnson to lead the Department of Education’s student loan system in a press release from the Department of Education. Johnson also happens to be a founder and the CEO of Reunion Financial Services, a company that originates and refinances student loans.
This was confirmed by Reunion’s website which has Dr. Johnson listed as the CEO, as does a copy of his resume that was sent to officials at Hamilton County school district, where Johnson was a candidate to become superintendent.
Interestingly, Johnson’s position at Reunion was left out of the Department of Education’s press release, which cited Johnson’s more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and Ph.D. in higher education leadership.
“Wayne is the right person to modernize FSA for the 21st Century,” said Secretary DeVos, “He actually wrote the book on student loan debt and will bring a unique combination of CEO-level operating skills and an in-depth understanding of the needs and issues associated with student loan borrowers and their families.” She went on to assert that he would be a “tremendous asset” to the Department of Education, helping advance their agenda.
Secretary DeVos will have tasked Johnson with executing her vision to simplify and modernize the federal student aid process, treat students as valued, respected customers, and to ensure Federal tax dollars are spent prudently. However, it remains to be seen if he will assume the position.
Johnson, also the founder of a payments technology company known as First Performance Corporation, comes from a background in the payments industry. Additionally, his Ph.D. dissertation paper focused on how students decide to borrow money to fund their educations.
“I have a profound appreciation for and recognition of the critical role FSA plays in advancing educational attainment by students in our nation’s institutions of higher education,” said Dr. Johnson, “It is with a deep and sincere commitment to the millions of current and future Federal Student Aid clients that I look forward to accepting responsibility and accountability for the policies, actions and practices of FSA.”
Dr. Johnson’s appointment comes a month after previous FSA officer, James Runcie, resigned after refusing to testify in front of an oversight committee about FSA’s rising levels of improper payments for federal student aid programs.
FSA currently serves more than 42 million student loan borrowers and deals with more than $1.41 trillion in current outstanding student loan debt.
Since her nomination, Secretary DeVos has been at the center of much scrutiny regarding her qualifications to handle the Department of Education. Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren launched the DeVos Watch initiative, which will closely monitor all of Secretary DeVos’ actions.
Author: Mike Brown
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