‘Expert’ on student loans was fake

Drew Cloud has been occasionally quoted as one of the leading “experts” on student loans.

Today, it has been revealed he’s fake. There’s no such person.

It took the Chronicle of Higher Education to reveal that the person who pitched student loan stories to news organizations and offered to do interviews by email, was a made-up character by the website — The Student Loan Report.

The Chronicle also revealed the website was actually run by a student loan refinancing company.

Ethics, anyone?

Cloud may no longer appear on his own site, but his footprint in the wider world remains. He was quoted by a number of media outlets this year in connection with a survey finding by The Student Loan Report that one in five students had used money from their student loans to invest in digital currencies. Experts in the field told The Chronicle that the study’s opaque methodology raised concerns.

Cloud has often appeared on financial-advice sites, either as a guest writer or as the subject of an interview. In those cases, he doesn’t mention where he attended college, but he does mention that he, too, had taken out student loans.

When people reached out to Cloud for his expertise on student debt, he often suggested that they refinance their loans.

Nate Matherson, the person who actually runs the refinance company, posts an “apology” for the deception:

(1) We never disclosed that “Drew Cloud” was a pen name that represented a group of us writing these posts. I really regret that. We are proud of our personal backgrounds and where they have brought us today. We should’ve chosen to be clear about who was authoring the posts. We have made a change on the site, effective immediately, to use each author’s real name for every post. We will also retroactively notate posts by Drew Cloud.

(2) We have always worked to keep editorial separation between The Student Loan Report and our other site, LendEDU.com, which is our main business. However, there have been nine Student Loan Report articles that mention LendEDU. We now realize that we should’ve had a disclosure that the sites were owned by the same company.

The doubts about Cloud appeared to have surfaced a month ago when “he” issued a survey about student loan recipients buying bitcoins with their money and was quoted by Fox News, CNBC, and Inside Higher Ed.