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Privacy Databases Education Programming Software IT

Student Financial Aid Database Being Misused 182

pin_gween writes "The Washington Post reports on the probable abuse of the National Student Loan Data System. The database was created in 1993 to help determine which students are eligible for financial aid. Students' Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and loan balances are in the database. It contains 60 million student records and is covered by federal privacy laws. Advocates worry that businesses are trolling for marketing data they can use to bombard students with mass mailings or other solicitations. The department has spent over $650,000 in the past four years protecting the data. However, some senior education officials are advocating a temporary shutdown of access to the database until tighter security measures can be put in place."
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Student Financial Aid Database Being Misused

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  • by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:48PM (#18746853) Homepage
    I guess that explains the hundreds of credit card applications that started showing up right as I started applying to colleges (way back when)...
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:49PM (#18746859) Homepage
    The Washington Post reports on the probable abuse of the National Student Loan Data System.

    Well color me surprised. Or not. Anyone in the financial services industry is well aware that students are prime targets for all sorts of jacked-up offers. That data needs protecting, but the whole credit system in this country needs a major overhaul. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:52PM (#18746875)
    The number of credit card offers you get in the mail your first year at college are ridiculous. At least, they were when I went, and I rather suspect the same is true today.

    The goal is simple: hook them early, let them blow a wad of bills they don't have, and then get their parents to pay for it. For a true horror story on this, take a look at this example [] of a student who had no business getting a credit card getting one, and what happened. (Before you say it, this sort of thing doesn't just happen in South Korea.)

  • Doesn't surprise me. (Score:5, Informative)

    by StarvingSE ( 875139 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:14AM (#18746985)
    After I was done with school, I consolidated my loans with a company that I spent some time actually researching and making sure they were reputable. However, I kept getting 10+ mailings a month from companies wanting to consolidate my loans. Then the phone calls came. I tell them all that I have already consolidated, yet they continue. It is no surprise to me that they are probably getting my info from this database.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:46AM (#18747171)
    They try to design that stuff to look like the scary kind of mail you get from a company you're already doing business with. They go for the panic sell... "OMG $student_name you have to refinance your loan with $creditor_name as soon as possible or else you're screwed!" They seem to know all sorts of stuff about your personal business. We get this crap all the time for my wife's law school loan. It's carefully designed to look like bills or tax forms associated with the loan, so you have to examine it to verify it's actually junk mail relating to the loan. It's junk mail from hell.
  • by spvo ( 955716 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @01:20AM (#18747321)
    If only it were that easy. For financial aid you can only claim to be independent if you meet one of the following:
    You were born before January 1, 1983.
    You're married.
    You're enrolled in a master's or doctorate program during the school year.
    You have children or other dependents who receive more than half their support from you.
    You're an orphan or ward of the court (or were a ward of the court until age 18).
    You're a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. "Veteran" includes a student who attended a U.S. military academy who was released under a condition other than dishonorable.
  • by esmrg ( 869061 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @01:50AM (#18747433)
    Examine what?
    Mail has various rates. If I grab a letter, first thing I look at is the top right hand corner. PRESRT STD. Throw way. No seriously, burn. No need to read or consider $this_offer. If anyone sends you or me anything of even the mildest importance, it's FIRST CLASS. Don't let any of the lies printed across the envelope fool you. Standard mail is always junk. However, many bills are presort first class, so be careful you notice the STANDARD or STD.
    Sometimes the firm may even have the wallet to mail a first class solicitation (although rare). In this case, they probably spent a bit more money to have you throw it away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @03:49AM (#18747917)
    I used to work for the support line for the FAFSA.

    Those restrictions are only to be declared independent on the FAFSA form automatically, you can still be declared independent by your school's financial aid office, but they are going to ask for some documentation you're paying your own lease, utilities, etc to start with. Evidence of past abuse by parents can also get you absolved of the requirements. It really is more up to the school's financial aid office more than the government if you're declared dependent and how much aid you actually get.

    By the way, that list of data in the NSLDS database is a little short, it also gives certain figures as reported on the student and parents' W-2. I've taken calls from students claiming they need to be declared independent because their parents refuse to support their education, meanwhile my system is telling me their parents made over $750,000 the previous year.

  • by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:26AM (#18748039) Journal
    i posted this lower in the thread so it will probably be buried. check out #3, item (d).

    link: []

    they sell to 'servicers' of educational institutions and i am guessing y'all signed off on it. if you are pissed about this issue a good question might be how someone is classified as a servicer.

  • by Zorque ( 894011 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:27AM (#18748043)
    I've been getting credit card offers since my senior year of high school. No Child Left Behind makes it legal for schools to do pretty much whatever they want with your information, and you can't stop them (at least this was my school's excuse). Furthermore, from what I've been told, the school is required to give information to any military branch that requests it.

    How do I know it's the school that's been doing it? They've always spelled my name Zajary instead of Zakary on all their mailings, and that's who these are addressed to (on the plus side, I can't legally open these letters since they aren't addressed to me).

    Yet another great policy from our Government.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas