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Names, Social Security numbers exposed on student loan website

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The private information of potentially thousands of Minnesota college students was made vulnerable to outside viewing due to a coding error, multiple outlets report.

The Minnesota Department of Higher Education said Friday a University of Minnesota student viewing an online financial aid counseling program over Labor Day weekend was able to see the personal information of other students – such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses and more, the Star Tribune reports.

The error occurred in an online counseling portion of the state's Student Education Loan Fund (SELF) program website.

The student who stumbled into the info alerted the university, which in turn told higher education officials. The coding error has been fixed, and there's no evidence the information was taken or used maliciously, KSTP reports.

Still, the Department of Higher Education is notifying students who may have been affected, the station says.

It's not clear how many students' information was vulnerable, but Commissioner of Higher Education Larry Pogemiller told the Pioneer Press about 10,000 SELF loans were issued last year – not all the recipients of which were necessarily affected.

The Pioneer Press reports officials say students' financial information was not on the site, but identity theft is a possibility because of the information that was visible.

Pogemiller told the Star Tribune it's likely the glitch was there for months. A total of 87 colleges and universities use the website, the paper says.

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