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Austin, Orlo (1940-) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Austin, Orlo (1940-)

Historical Note: Orlo Austin, b. 1940, was Director of Financial Aid at the University of Illinois from 1981 until his retirement in 2004.  In the fall of 1991 Austin was a senior intern in the office of Senator Paul Simon working on the issue of direct student loans.  Direct student lending was made possible in 1991 by a change in the way student loans were accounted for in the federal budget. Direct lending bills, including one sponsored by Senators Simon and Durenberger, were introduced in the fall of 1991 as amendments to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Austin, working with Senior Counsel Bob Shireman, arranged expert testimony on this legislation for the Senate's Labor and Human Resources Commitee, on which Simon served, as well as serving as a conduit with the student lending community helping to promote the legislation.  At the same time, Austin was on an email list, maintained by Thomas Butts, Vice President for Government Affairs of the University of Michigan, which came to be known as the Direct Loan Working Group (DLWG).  The DLWG was comprised mainly of university directors of financial aid and functioned as a grassroots organization, lobbying Congress. According to Bob Shireman, without the DLWG, the legislation "would not have happened."  Many of these directors, including Austin, were among the first implementors of the direct student loan program at their schools.  The DLWG organized more formally in 1995 as the National Coalition for Direct Lending, and then as the National Direct Student Loan Coalition, formally incorporating in 2000.  Austin remained active in the organization.  Following his retirement, Austin continued to advocate for direct studentl loans, in 2005-2006 lobbying the Illinois General Assembly against "school as lender" legislation that would have removed the University of Illinois from the direct student loan program.
Sources: Orlo Austin Papers and interviews with Orlo Austin, Thomas Butts and Bob Shireman.
Note Author: Walter D. Ray

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