WASHINGTON (AP) — The personal financial details of as many as 5,000 college students were temporarily laid bare for other students to view on the Education Department’s direct loan website earlier this month, an education official testified Tuesday.

The students’ information was available during a six or seven minute window as officials were making a reconfiguration involving 11.5 million borrowers, said James Runcie, the Education Department’s federal student aid chief operating officer. The change was designed to improve the website’s performance times.

Runcie said students who logged on during the trouble period saw the personal details of other students.

Those whose information was exposed have been notified and offered credit monitoring services, Runcie said. The department shut down the website while the problem was resolved. “We responded as quickly as we could,” he said.

Runcie’s testimony came before a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee, which has been reviewing the Education Department’s transition to directly issuing all student loans.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the subcommittee chairwoman, said the transition has meant more customer service problems and mistakes, including the recent security problem with the website.

“The implications of this kind of website malfunction are severe, particularly when it affects millions of borrows nationwide,” Foxx said.

In a statement released after the hearing, Justin Hamilton, an Education Department spokesman, said the problem occurred on Oct. 12 and the department has no reason to believe students’ information was misused or accessed by anyone with “malicious intent.”

Congress changed the way student loans are issued last year as part of the law overhauling the nation’s health care system. It essentially stripped banks of their role as middlemen in issuing the loans. All loans are now directly issued by the government. The expectation at the time was that the measure would result in $61 billion in savings over a decade. The billions saved are to pay for Pell Grants, provide resources to community and historically black colleges, help reduce the deficit and offset expenses from the health care legislation.

Runcie said the department uses rigorous security standards but is looking to soon roll out an additional safeguard. He also said the department appreciates suggestions on ways to make its website more user friendly, and plans to make changes.

Overall, Runcie said the transition to the direct loan program has been a success.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (29)
  1. dave says:

    Don’t say that no one knew the education bubble was coming. Obama is making it much, much worse this week. He’s going to put the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in order to grow the size of government.

    Lots of people knew the housing bubble was coming, but the media ignored the problem. Lots of people know the college loan bubble is the exact same problem and the media’s ignoring that as well.

    Hopefully, the next president can clean up this mess that Obama’s creating. (and hopefully, he’ll take responsibility after 3 years instead of blaming Obama).

  2. steverino says:

    Yup, this is Freddie and Fannie all over again. Well intentioned liberals just don’t see the unintended consequences. In their desire to give things (houses or degrees) to poor people who can’t afford them, they cheapen the product and create a bubble. It’ll be 10 years before the Freddie and Fannie disaster that crippled the economy subsides.

    1. Al Tango says:

      Liberals are not well intentioned. They want to bring society to its knees so they can declare martial law and confiscate all the private property for the state (themselves.)

      1. radicaltruth says:

        I’d say the central planning power elites are not well-intentioned, and do want to create reliance and dependency on federal government for all people. However, there are many ‘useful idiots’ that jump onto the wagon with good intentions and naive ignorance of the unintended consequences and affects of such powerplays.

  3. BigBoa says:

    So, tuition “soars” under O’Bozo, and now guess who is standing there holding out bags o’ cash for poor strapped students? He isn’t even TRYING to hid his vote purchasing schemes any longer.

    The mighty Boa will say it YET again. He needs to go and if you think a sham election is going to remove him, you are absolutely delusional. He is already making preparations to suspend or steal it. Wait till it happens and you will find he has eliminated any means by which the people would be able to remove him. Time is ticking….. And with each day he further consolidates his power and digs in.

    1. Not Republican says:

      You must be talking about Bush’s era.

      1. jimbo says:

        Sorry, you’ll have to repeat that…we can’t hear you with your head stuffed so far up your a$$

      2. Reality says:

        ALL social laws after 1964 should IMMEDIATELY be repealed!

      3. Craig Brockman says:

        You ay want to check your facts “Not Republican” – but your screen name describes it all – a Liberal equates a person who makes stuff up on the go, and in the end blames Bush.

      4. radicaltruth says:

        Anyone not enslaved to a certain ideology comprised of irrational and impractical theories and ideas not set in reality could have begun to turn the economy around and set our nation on a path for shared prosperity in the 2+ years Obama has been golfing, schmoozing, campaigning, lecturing, preaching, vacationing, and touring on our dime.

  4. jimbo says:

    So we go from “mortgage-backed securities” to “student-loan backed securities”????

    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. saz says:

    Ok, this really isn’t about politics or politicians, at least not directly. These kinds of scams (aka: ponzi schemes) are cooked up by the bankers by their friends in the Federal Reserve.
    This is how they make their money, with never-ending money-printing, producing debt.
    They convince all the naive politicians that this “next step” is the only hope. Others, they bribe.
    Follow the money to find the puppet masters.
    and, by the way, Ron Paul is the only hope here.

    1. Jack says:

      Ron Paul 2012…absolutely the only real choice and hope for America!!!

  6. A Texan says:

    I recently went back to college to finish off my BS in Computer Science. Most everyone is either on financial aid or some form of assistance. I get the strangest looks when I tell classmates I am paying for it out of my own pocket.

    If more people would pay there own way the price of education would drop because we would demand better service for our money. I know I do.

    1. A Plains person says:

      @ A Texan, I paid my way, back in the late 80’s; How do you do it? I couldn’t afford an education today

      1. A Texan says:

        I work about 60 hours per week. I’m 50 and started college in the 80’s but life chose a different path for me. Now I am back with a vengeance. Should finish my BS next fall and if all goes well Grad school in the spring

  7. Hank Warren says:

    Gov’t misusing student info, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  8. Reality says:

    This is NOT an accident.ALL of this admin needs sentances of 25 to life in Leavenworth.You see,if GWB ACTUALLY commited crimes,the dhimmi’s would be on it like flies to faeces,and have several prosecutions by now,however,the next admin will prosecute many “czars”,it’s going to be awesome.Any rioters should be dealt with like the fifth column that they are.

  9. meg says:

    they don’t care, they love Facebook.

  10. Tom Menino says:

    As long as Obama can keep the percentage of people who pay no taxes at 51%, then they have no skin in the game when he raises taxesm and they’ll vote for him for the free handouts.

    End this travesty now.

  11. Spoker says:

    Barry must keep the students happy, he needs their votes and idealistic cheap labor. His progressivfe movement needs to keep control of the education system to control the minds of the young. He needs to keep feeding the education system dollars so he can maintain control. He can’t feed it enough dollars directly from the taxpayers so he has helped the colleges up fees and tuition and taken the same money from the parents and students while supporting his recently bailed out banker friends. Now to keep the students in his corner he is going to give “releif” to the students to keep their votes and cheap labor. The maniuplation of the educational system is going to prove just a destructive to the US as the housing colapse just in a different way. And the worst thing of all is he is going to get another 4 years to finsih the job. American voters are basicly trusting voters never learn until their pockets have already been picked. After all, he doing exactly what he said he was going to do, we just refused to listen.

  12. calhoun211 says:

    A Texas wrote at 4:50 should finish my BS next fall. I hope you complete your degree as planned. I also hope the BS coming from the WH is finished as well.

  13. raise credit score says:

    Hello my family member! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and come with approximately all important infos. I would like to peer more posts like this .

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