Education Department revealed the financial info of thousands of college students

The department says it uses rigorous security standards but is looking to soon roll out an additional safeguard.

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.