The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
Instagram

Student loan information leaked

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that a glitch in Federal Education Department software made personal student data available, but Southern Methodist University’s Director of Financial Aid said that students here have little to worry about.

The only students who would be affected by the glitch, according to Director of Financial Aid Marc Peterson, are those who are enrolled in the Direct Lending program run by the Department of Education.

He explained that colleges may choose to use the Federal Family Education Loan program, the one SMU uses, instead of the Direct Lending program.

“Students select from a list of lenders who provide the variety of federal student loan products,” Peterson said, adding that the only students who might have a problem would be those who’ve transferred from other universities or graduate students.

June Hagler, who also works in the Financial Aid office, said even though the federal government doesn’t control the lending at SMU, it usually offers a better deal than private lenders.

“If students come to SMU and they have to borrow, we always direct them to federal aid,” she said. “They do have to fill out a FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible, but the interest rates are lower,” said Hagler.

As of July 1, a subsidized Stafford Loan had a fixed interest rate of 6.8 percent. A Sallie Mae Signature Student Loan, by comparison, has an interest rate that starts at 8 percent and goes up to 13 percent.

This fall, SMU has roughly 2,800 federal student loans taken out for undergraduates. There’s not a total for the number of students who have loans, said Peterson, because many have more than one loan, and SMU does not track duplications.

About 1,400 students have undergraduate subsidized Stafford Loans, which offer lower interest rates than unsubsidized Stafford Loans and private loans. There are 789 undergraduates who’ve taken out unsubsidized Stafford Loans, and another 670 have Parent PLUS Loans, which parents pay back instead of students.

As for graduate students, roughly 1,300 have subsidized Stafford Loans and slightly more have unsubsidized Stafford Loans. About a hundred graduate students have PLUS loans.

The Education Department said that a “limited number” of students would be affected since not all of the 6.4 million borrowers are registered online, but the department didn’t specify how many.

The department also said that the glitch was caused by a routine software upgrade performed by Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.

Since Sunday, four users have complained that the Web site has mixed up their personal data. A department spokeswoman said that the malfunctioning parts of the Web site have been shut down until the problems can be fixed.

More to Discover