Financial-Aid Advisers Are Angry About New Ad From MyRichUncle

May 20, 2008

Financial-aid advisers are up in arms over the latest advertisement from MyRichUncle, the direct-to-consumer lender whose ads have previously attacked the integrity of colleges’ financial-aid offices.

The ad, which appeared in slightly different versions in USA Today last Friday and The New York Times on Sunday, features a man with his head sliced open to reveal missing brains. Appearing in a banner across the ad is the slogan: “I didn’t use my brain, I went straight to the financial aid office.” Smaller text at the bottom urges readers to call MyRichUncle or visit its Web site to “See why thinking saves thousands.”

Karin Pellman, a spokeswoman for the lender, said the ad had been designed to encourage borrowers to shop around for loans. “We’re making the very important point that smart borrowing involves not just going to the financial-aid office — going there and looking beyond it,” she said.

But financial-aid advisers, still simmering over a controversial 2006 ad from MyRichUncle, are beyond offended. “How RUDE and LOW CLASS!,” wrote one poster on an e-mail list for financial-aid advisers. “All of us work too hard for too little to be misrepresented in this way.”

“Can anyone say … slander?,” wrote another.

The new ad comes a little less than two years after MyRichUncle published one in The New York Times that sharply questioned the integrity of financial-aid advisers. Many lenders and financial-aid advisers have credited that ad with sparking an investigation by the New York attorney general into conflicts of interest in the student-loan programs. —Kelly Field