Student Loan Scandal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's a new wrinkle to a scandal involving alleged kickbacks in the government-backed loan program for college students.

Education Department loan program manager Matteo Fontana has been placed on leave for a possible conflict of interest. And it's a conflict the department itself might have picked up if it had paid closer attention to his disclosure forms.

The forms, released last night, show that Fontana had held as much as a-quarter million dollars in stock in a company that provides student loans.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy says there are "grave concerns" about the "effectiveness and impartiality" of the Education Department's own ethics process.

A spokeswoman for the department says it relies on employees to be honest but says new orders require that all disclosure forms be reviewed by at least two lawyers.

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