Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Student Financial Aid Database Being Misused

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the six-solicitations-per-day dept.

Privacy 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."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered


All databases eventually get hacked (4, Interesting)

toodle-lou (1088421) | about 7 years ago | (#18746827)

its just a matter of time...everybody's personal data will eventually get misused

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (2, Informative)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#18746853)

I guess that explains the hundreds of credit card applications that started showing up right as I started applying to colleges (way back when)...

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18746997)

I think colleges and the College Board and ACT are all happy to sell your address. I'm not sure, but I have some memory of checking a box or whatever.

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (0)

intercodes (819880) | about 7 years ago | (#18746861)

I don't give a shit anyway , if it's only going to be email messages. In the worst case they would call ? .. Just hang up.

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (4, Insightful)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | about 7 years ago | (#18746993)

In the worst case they would call ? .. Just hang up.
So what you're saying is:

Solution to telemarketers: just hang up!

Solution to junk mail: just throw it away!

Solution to spam: just delete it!

Are you serious?? Are you mad??

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (1)

intercodes (819880) | about 7 years ago | (#18747043)

"I" prefer that, rather than forcing the US government with my infinite power to spend more money into protecting these databases. I am not giving a solution to everyone here. They are entitled to their own opinions or of the intelligent ones.

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (2, Insightful)

chaoticgeek (874438) | about 7 years ago | (#18747417)

Except for the fact they have enough info then to apply for cards, and completely screw me over... If someone got their hands on a just part of the database everyone one of them would be completely screwed if the government did not say oops we messed up. At this way the current leader is going with general war affairs I'm gonna say we would not be too high on the list of telling the public that something wrong happened. I doubt that Bush really wants to add that to his list of mistakes. No it is not Bush that controls it but it is his branch that helps with it so he should take the blame... I for one would not like any of my info to fall into hands that will abuse the info, weather it be criminals or business (the same to me most of the time anyways it seems).

Plus in the description it says it is not just emails, it is Social, email, and phone. But it has got to include your address and birth date, and other info because I know I get mail from the government about my loans from them.

Not that simple (5, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#18747863)

I don't give a shit anyway , if it's only going to be email messages. In the worst case they would call ? .. Just hang up.

It's not that simple. If the database contained only email addresses and telephone numbers, ok, noone would give too much of a shit.

Unfortunately, by the sound of it, it contains enough data for identity theft. Especially since in America a bunch of idiots decided that the SSN is usable as unique ID and/or password for everything, so anyone who knows yours already won half the battle to impersonate you. Plus the always useful (especially to a crook) information of how elligible for a loan everyone there is.

So here's a simple scenario: a crook looks through that database, finds a list of kids with upper middle class parents (you don't want to go for billionaire sons, because that might raise suspicions), also finds all the information needed to impersonate any of them to a bank, and takes a hefty "student loan" in the name of each. Just hefty enough to be worth the heist, but not quite close to the limit to raise too much suspicion and verifications. Crook buggers off with the money, and the parents are left to prove that it wasn't their offspring who took the loan. (After a round of inquisition to determine if it really was the son who blew the money on hookers, booze and dope.)

Hacked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18746995)

uhh right.. damn kids..

Misused is basically the head dogs of this database selling information under the table and taking a huge cut. It has nothing to do with getting hacked. If you had'nt noticed, misuse is rampant in American society.

Re:Hacked? (5, Interesting)

epee1221 (873140) | about 7 years ago | (#18747269)

Exactly. There is no breaking-in going on. TFA says the problem is that lenders are mining in ways that aren't allowed by federal regulations. This leaves a few questions:
  • Why does the database system fulfill illegal search requests?
  • Do those who have been searching illegally still have access? If so, why?
  • What punishment exists for violating the regulations on what searches are allowed?
  • How much of the data stored on each student do these lenders actually have legitimate reason to know?
  • What hoops does a lender have to jump through to get access to the database?

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (2, Interesting)

Rukie (930506) | about 7 years ago | (#18747105)

Considering the fact that eventually someone will gain your information, I do have some fear. Unfortuantely? I do not let fear manipulate me. I'm sure my financial data will get out from a credit card company or an ebay or something. This frightens me a little bit because I will be attending college next year. Fortunately, the school I will be attending is fairly new (the campus, not the school). I do look forward to Rochester Institute of Technology, but now I'm getting off topic. I did notice that as soon as I got a $250 credit card (I know, there's people with $100,000 limits) I immediately started getting other credit card offers for $300 from other entirely unrelated credit card companies. As soon as I applied for one online college site (petersons and collegeboard) I received hundreds of mails and emails for different colleges. They are still contacting me, even after I tell them to remove me from their list. And after the report about how the government recieved a C(-?) on their security, this doesn't surprise me a bit. In fact, I think its hilarious that our government, a society with spies that keeps things secret from its own people, cannot manage security on more public organizations like police departments and the FBI.

Re:All databases eventually get hacked (1)

kinglink (195330) | about 7 years ago | (#18747397)

Did you even read the summary or were you just going for the first post?

This data isn't hacked, it's being misused, they are completely different situations. This database is giving access to the wrong people who will likely use the data for data mining finiacial information. These people are given complete access like a normal university.

The real problem though is that it sounds like anyone who logs onto this system has 100 percent access to every entry even without any proof of a business relationship with the person. It's hard to even consider this hacking or cracking as it's just a wide open database.

Duh... (5, Funny)

dal20402 (895630) | about 7 years ago | (#18746837)

O rly?

I would never have guessed that these guys had anything to do with the 2-3 student loan consolidation offers I get per day...

I'm sure my future, not just this article, is

from the six-soliciations-per-day dept.

Re:Duh... (3, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | about 7 years ago | (#18747165)

preach on.
I swear, every week I get some sort of consolidation spam vaguely disguised as a threatening pink or yellow bill.

Re:Duh... (1)

anagama (611277) | about 7 years ago | (#18747207)

Either that or disguised as a check. The ridiculous part is that they come from the same half dozen companies -- literally every damn week from each one. The sadder fact is that I already consolidated many years ago and I'm not even eligible.

Or we could stop fixing the wrong problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18746851)

Here's a thought- rather than worry about misuse of students addresses and social security numbers, why don't we address the two real problems:

1. We need to reign in junk mail; and
2. Financial institutions need to stop treating a social security number as some sort of password.

Re:Or we could stop fixing the wrong problem (1)

intercodes (819880) | about 7 years ago | (#18746873)

My Applied Cryptography professor used to say that replacing SSN with PKI infrastructure is another very good alternative for all our purposes. Educating the masses to use PKI though is difficult.

Re:Or we could stop fixing the wrong problem (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | about 7 years ago | (#18747491)

Educating the masses to use PKI though is difficult.

Why so? PKI is a pretty simple concept at the high level, and most folks would just need to mentally replace their SSN/PIN/Whatever with their private key. Are people really that stupid in mass?

Actualy, they probably are, and I guess Spam Co X would just ask for their Private Key to "verify their identity" or somesuch anyway. And also consider that the folks making these kinds of decisions are generally not as IT or security savvy as the IT professionals on Slashdot... so even if someone advised the appropriate politician to go with it, without enormous lobbying, convincing, public relations, scare tactics, etc, the punters wouldn't accept such a change anyway. For most (older, non-technical, wealthy) people, the Status Quo is always preferred.

Really though, I think the main issue is that They (Govt, Marketing/Spammers, Whoever) want a unique identifier, not a secure identifier. Once identify theft and cross-corruption of identifiers in databases becomes a big enough problem for Them, the system will change.

(I must apologise for the paranoid They/Them terminology, but I can't think of a more appropriate term...)

Re:Or we could stop fixing the wrong problem (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 years ago | (#18747629)

PKI is a pretty simple concept at the high level, and most folks would just need to mentally replace their SSN/PIN/Whatever with their private key.

Really? No they wouldn't. You wouldn't be able to remember, without WAY more effort than people would be willing to put into it, your new public key. (I estimate you would need close 150 to 200 base-36 characters (letters+numbers) to encode a reasonably strong key.) You also wouldn't be able to DO anything with it without a computer.

This works okay if you're at home and doing something over the Internet or something like that, but what if you're not? Now you have to carry around a little device that will digitally sign messages for you. Alternatively, you could write down your key and then enter it into other computers, but now you're not secure.

Just yesterday I got a dept. store credit card (15% off; saved me about $25, so it was worth it). It asked me for my SSN. This would have been totally impractical if we change to a PKI architecture.

So, your education problem not only consists of how to make the change, but WHY making the change brings about a benefit that is greater than the hassle that it entails.

Re:Or we could stop fixing the wrong problem (1)

bentcd (690786) | about 7 years ago | (#18748099)

The only remotely practical way of doing PKI for the masses is to issue everyone a smartcard with their private key on it. The user doesn't know this private key (he uses a PIN to activate it), only the smartcard and the issuing authority do. And the card does all the encryption/decryption that is necessary so the key never leaves the card.
The remaining problem would be to convince a sufficiently large number of people that they should accept having to carry and use a smartcard when needing to identify themselves. This might be difficult in the US, but somewhat easier in Europe.
It follows, however, that when such a strong authentication system is in place, people who do manage to crack it will be that much better off than they are today. After all, few would question a positive smartcard-based id.

it's about time, but we should do more (5, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#18746859)

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. [pbs.org]

What's the solution? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747261)

Okay, so reform is needed. But what's the solution, though? Is it legislation-based? Is it market-based? We have to make sure the solution doesn't fuck us over more than the problem it's trying to solve.

A good example of how a good idea can go wrong is Digg. It addresses one of the sore spots about Slashdot: the ability for anyone to submit news, and immediately have it viewable by others. It also opens up the comment moderation system to everyone. It's the Digg comment moderation I'd like to consider for the moment.

What we often find is that people in the know get their posts voted down, especially if they say something unpopular (even if completely factual). An example of this is noted Slashdot poster John Randolph, who goes by the handle jcr. He often speaks his mind, and that gets some people at Digg all riled up. So they moderate down his comments. This is especially true in his posts dealing with Apple, where John says it as it is. After all, John worked at Apple for a long time. He knows how things are done there. But that's not good enough for many of the morons at Digg. They bury what are perhaps the most informative, insightful and interesting comments. It's a perfect example of how a system that tries to fix Slashdot ends up being far worse in most cases.

I could see the same thing happening with proposed solutions to these data protection problems. If it's a legislation-based approach, the law will end up making database server administration far more difficult and time-consuming. A market-based approach will no doubt have even more problems.

Re:it's about time, but we should do more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747761)

Some reforms I'd like to see:
Cap on maximum interest rates. I don't see a good reason for credit companies to be able to charge 20+% interest. This would shift the credit equation to price out a lot of people with poor credit.
Limitations on variable rate mortgages: A lot of people are getting snagged by the teaser rates without refinancing before the higher rates set in. Homeownership is something serious enough that teaser rates shouldn't entice people into it.
Regulation of short term/paycheck lending: This is tied in with the first, but paycheck lenders charge outrageous rates.

I'm sure there are others. My only concern is that limitations of this sort are paternalistic. Both of these practices could provide opportunities for people with poor credit, and the only argument against these practices seems to be that people are not being responsible. I once hoped that education would render paternalistic laws useless, but I don't see that happening without a major change in culture. On the whole, these regulations may be necessary for the time being.

Re:it's about time, but we should do more (1)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#18747881)

I'm sure there are others. My only concern is that limitations of this sort are paternalistic.

Possibly, but even a simple move like eliminating the practice of Universal Default [wikipedia.org] would be a huge leap forward.

link (.pdf) to privacy policy (4, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | about 7 years ago | (#18748039)

i posted this lower in the thread so it will probably be buried. check out #3, item (d).

link:http://www.ed.gov/notices/pia/nslds.pdf [ed.gov]

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.


The number of credit card offers... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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 [sfgate.com] 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.)

Re:The number of credit card offers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18746961)

OK, I'm sure it's a fake name to protect the identity of the victim, but you'd think the San Fransisco Chronicle could come up with a better name than "You Me" - even if they did spell it "You Mi".

Re:The number of credit card offers... (1)

DTemp (1086779) | about 7 years ago | (#18747273)

As a college student, in his third year, I've been getting at least one envelope from Capital One every week for the last 4 years (it started back in high school). Of course this is just capital one, I also get offers from nearly everyone else that offers cards, but not as often as the tards at Capital One. Then again, can you blame them? All I have to do is finally see ONE envelope I like, and their plan will have worked. When there's money on the line, companies stop caring about all the paper they're wasting... Speaking of databases being hacked, didn't something like 60M credit cards get hacked from TJ Maxx? Maybe single monolithic databases that hold so much private data shouldn't be allowed to exist, hymm?

Mod up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747333)

Seriously, read the link.

Re:The number of credit card offers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747481)

Does anyone know if it's illegal to use their business reply envelopes to send them stuff back that isn't filled out applications?

Re:The number of credit card offers... (4, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | about 7 years ago | (#18747553)

I got my undergrad at Portland State and have recently started taking graduate classes "for fun"... it's been more than 5 years since I attended.

The particularly obnoxious thing is not getting credit card offers... no... your student i.d. IS a credit card! It's a mastercard. You have to go online to activate it and when you do, you have the option (if you check the box every time it pops up) to NOT have a credit account attached to it.

In my mind this is even more insidious than the 5 credit card booths between the registrar's office and financial aid, and the pile of credit card apps in your bookstore bag.

There's no way to avoid getting the card and you have to work to not make it a credit card.

Re:The number of credit card offers... (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 years ago | (#18747577)

Wow, that's bad. Both at my undergrad and my graduate institution, you had the option of putting your debit card on the same card, and MAYBE a credit card, but it was always opt-in.

Only $650k? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18746965)

Only $650k over a few years to protect that much important data? That's about what the US spends on the Iraqi War _every_six_minutes_. What's wrong with this picture?

Re:Only $650k? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747469)

What's wrong with this picture?

All shock, no awe?

Doesn't surprise me. (4, Informative)

StarvingSE (875139) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Doesn't surprise me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747127)

i have no student loans yet recently graduated from college and amd getting 10-15 consolidation offers a month

But you can surprise them (4, Funny)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | about 7 years ago | (#18747141)

Then the phone calls came. I tell them all that I have already consolidated, yet they continue.

Hi, you called <me/>, first class provider of premium customer service coaching for dodgey loan consolidation services providers. Before we begin, I'm obliged to tell you that this call is being recorded for customer service and validation reasons and that by continuing to use this coaching service, you are agreeing on behalf of your dodgey loan consolidation service provider to be bound by the terms and conditions available online at <free_host_where_I_posted_an_outrageous_contract>. Also you are reminded that if this is a second call by a respresentative of the dodgey loan consolidation service provider you represent, you are agreeing their behalf to the conditions of our $250000 per minute premium service as described in section 3.6a subsection z of the contract found at <free_host_where_I_posted_an_outrageous_contract>, do you understand?

If things get any further.....

Thank you, but I have already consolidated my loans and I'm really not interested.

Now I would advise, in order to provide the best possible customer service, you hang up. If this doesn't work for you, please call back for a premium consultation. Have a nice day. *click*

Re:But you can surprise them (3, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#18747773)

When you get these annoying telemarketer calls, regardless of what they are selling, you can stop them easily.

First, Ask them who they represent. Once they answer with the company they are working for tell them to take you off their list and any other lists they have associated with it and to make sure you don't end back up on the list again. Then tell them your not interested in the of offer and repeat the take me off the list thing again.

It is important to tell the to take you off the list first because sometimes they will hang up before you can say it after you told them you weren't interested.

I have heard that if they keep calling you after you told them to take you off the list, you can get something like $500 a pop for each time they call you after. I'm not sure about that specifically but I think the key that really makes this work is that they know you won't buy what they are selling and since you have shown that it angers you to be bothered by them, they move onto someone that will give them a commission or a sale. And trust me, This works quite well in stopping the phone calls. But you have to be specific and keep a record of who is calling. And when you tell them to take you off the list, Don't yell or scream, just speak like you are the principle at a grade school telling a third grader something they did was really bad.

Re:Doesn't surprise me. (2, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Doesn't surprise me. (4, Informative)

esmrg (869061) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747181)

If you wish Xcode would reformat your code for consistency, GTFO.
If you're overwhelmed by IB's multi-paletted interface, GTFO.
If you've ever typed a backslash outside of ASCII art, GTFO.
If you can't intuit your way from HyperTalk to AppleScript, GTFO.

Bandwagon-jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] geeks [imageshack.us]. Keep your filthy PC fingers to yourself.


OminousZ (1088565) | about 7 years ago | (#18747825)

If you've posted this same format of post in different threads before without actually contributing to conversation, GTFO!

Re:Doesn't surprise me. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#18747317)

What's funny is, there are people who still think of universities as being "non-profit, therefore for the public good" places. Sorry kids, someone who whores out your data for quick cash isn't "non-profit"; they simply don't distribute the profits to shareholders.

Re:Doesn't surprise me. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 years ago | (#18747515)

Just tell them that you spent your entire student loan on p0rn and drugs. And you've maxed out your dad's credit cards.

Ask them to send over more money right now. Tell them you'll fill out their paperwork at the first available opportunity, but right now there's a mean looking guy in a felt hat banging on your front door.

See if they ever call back.

How do you Check it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747035)

So how do you request a look at what data is your own in the Database?

Re:How do you Check it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747081)

Check your Spam folder. You would know then.

If they would spam me less... (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | about 7 years ago | (#18747045)

If these consolidation companies would quite wasting so much money on marketing, and you know, actually offer better rates, they might actually get some business. Who am I kidding, this is America, a well marketed piece of crap gets ten times the volume of a quality product that slips under the radar.

Re:If they would spam me less... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747057)

That describes democracy, my friend.

The SSN is just a number (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 years ago | (#18747095)

I know *all* SSN, credit card, phone numbers and dates of birth and I'll gladly sell them to anyone at only 1c each.

Re:The SSN is just a number (1)

alienmole (15522) | about 7 years ago | (#18747155)

If that comes with names, dates of birth, mother's maiden name, home addresses, telephone number, etc. then I'll take 10,000 of 'em, preferably Caucasian males around age 36. I have some, uh, special projects I want to use them for.

It's not the abuse, it's the incompetence (4, Funny)

Aluvus (691449) | about 7 years ago | (#18747107)

This past week I (a college student, with financial aid) got a letter stating I was pre-approved for a loan of $3,500 on condition of proving I own a home.

I live in a dorm. At a school in another state.

Apparently their "prescreening" folks can't even figure things out when they have a large chunk of my personal information staring them in the face.

Re:It's not the abuse, it's the incompetence (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#18747139)

I keep getting offers for loans on my propert at my old dorm address.. i keep wanting to reply, sure I'll mortgage Friley Hall for a penny or two...

Re:It's not the abuse, it's the incompetence (1)

Kingrames (858416) | about 7 years ago | (#18747339)

You think it's incompetence. good for them.

This is their method of seeing if the information they have of you is up-to-date.
After all, if their information shows that you live in a dorm, that doesn't mean you still do.

Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747121)

I work my butt off to pay for school, because my parents won't give me a dime. And yet, the "expected family contribution" as decided by my parents' tax documents still shows up, every year. The "expected student contribution" is generally a few hundred bucks, and the EFC is a little over half of my tuition...close to $5k.

This all fails to address the very simple fact that my parents give me nothing, and the government seems to think they should be giving me $5k/yr. Misuse my data, who cares. Just pay for my education like a good .gov instead of wasting money fighting a war nobody wants.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747177)

File as financially independent, and your EFC is 0. Of course, the IRS might get pissed at your parents if they are claiming to be supporting you.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | about 7 years ago | (#18747299)

You pointed out the problem with filing an an independent in your post.

If you file as an independent (ie not dependent on your parents) then you get more financial aid from the government.

Your parents cannot claim you as a dependent on their tax returns now though, which in most cases will end up costing them more than you are going to get in financial aid.

And for everyone thinking that you can do both... don't it's a federal felony to lie on your taxes.

When they couldn't get Al Capone for murder they got him for tax fraud and he was sentenced to eleven years in Federal prison.

Don't mess with the IRS!

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#18747797)

Ehh.. The problem seem to be that someone is complaining that their parents don't support them thought school. So why should they get the ability to claim the student or the deductions?

If the answer is because he/she is still living in their home rent free then the argument about not getting help with school is bogus. Try paying for school and an apartment at the same time and you will see the help.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 7 years ago | (#18748347)

That's good. Next kid, the cheap fuckers will cough up some scratch!

I'm all for kids being independent by college age, but to fuck him by continuing to claim him on thier taxes? fuck 'em.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (2, Informative)

spvo (955716) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747447)

You're an orphan

That one's easy enough

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (1)

BlueItalian (1016784) | about 7 years ago | (#18747985)

that's not unheard of, my wife was in the same situation. Why USA parents are, in general, tremendous asshole to their kids? In my former country such conduct would be unthinkable (and illegal, by the way).

Re:Financial aid is effing broken anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18748051)

You think that's bad?

I was emancipated when I was 17. As in, mommy and daddy aren't going to help anymore, and I was steal legally a child, so in order to get, say, a phone or a job that wouldn't fire me for working overtime, I had to get a court order saying so.

The financial aid bastards don't care. I'm still dependent.

it almost doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#18747125)

ISU was rumored to have sold off our entire phonebook to marketers for like $2M at one point while I was a student.

My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (5, Interesting)

jasmak (1007287) | about 7 years ago | (#18747151)

I am still in college, and currently me and everyone I kno all get tons and tons of letters for consolidations and credit cards. What I think should happens is that everyone should band together against these junkmailing companies to end it(or at least take a shot at the man). Here is how it works:

1) Open junk mail

2) Remove return envelope

3) Fold up the rest of the contents as they arrived and stuff them in the envelope

4) Send it back to them

I figure if enough people do this, it can begin to make a dent by doubling how much they pay for each mailing(how many people actually sign up with junkmail anyhow) or at least maybe they will take me off their list(doubtful) but in the worst case... I am giving them they exact pain the inflict on me by having to open worthless mail.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747293)

I've been doing that for the last several years. Some of them give up on you.

However, there is one persistent fucker: American Express. For every envelope I return to them, they mail a brand new offer by the next week! I am not joking.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | about 7 years ago | (#18747365)

For credit card offers, you can (with Google's help) write one letter an you won't get any credit card offers at all for 5 years.

I don't remember details, because I haven't been annoyed by credit card offers for 2 years. :)

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

JonathanR (852748) | about 7 years ago | (#18747465)

Don't just mail them back their offer. Stuff the envelope full of whatever advertising material came in the mail that day. Given their penchant for saving people money, they surely will be interested in the weekly specials from your local supermarket.

Additionally, don't just fold the stuff once. Fold it numerous times, so it becomes a fat wad of paper. In Australia, at least, Australia Post charges a premium for letters in excess of 5mm thick.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (0, Offtopic)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#18747555)

Sorry, I don't mean to be a troll, but I think your plan is bad for the environment for no real good reason. Every time we do anything, even if it's for some sort of abstract version of revenge against the "man", we should ask if it will do harm to the world. In this case, I doubt companies that depend on mailing applications out will *ever* stop. On the other hand, the added weight of this mass mailing bomb will waste fuel. While you would be the lesser of two evils, you would still be evil.

Sorry for being so serious about it, I am sure you were only being half-serious

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#18747827)

Sometimes you have to live a little.

Besides, the environment can be fixed. The amount of damage done by the extra weight in terms of fuel is minuscule compared to the satisfaction of doing something. Really, Everyone in the dorm could do this and not archive the amount of "weight" the truck could save if they had half a tank of fuel compared to the full tank. It will be more like the amount of weight that could be saved if the drive took a dump before his shift and didn't eat anything until his shift was over. We aren't looking at much more then a couple of pounds here.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#18747971)

"Sometimes you have to live a little."

My god man, you're in college. When I was your age (by which I mean 2 years younger) living a little involved something a bit crazier than mailing back some empty applications to companies. Although I'll admit graduating has made me more mature (and hence more boring), I think your rebellious side is also coming off as a bit tame.

If you want to get into a technical argument, even an ounce of gas wasted makes your adventure a negative sum game. There's a reason why the post office has to charge 40 cents an envelope (and still loses money). in addition, the added cost to the company goes directly back to the consumer in higher costs. I don't mind cool pranks, but the second they start hurting people I lose respect for them.

A good prank is:
a. funny
b. noticeable to others (so they can appreciate the humor)
c. harmless

You are 0/3 on that scale. Whatever, I don't really want to argue with you about something as insignificant as this - my original point was supposed to be limited to my criticism of America's wasteful nature, not an attack on you or your actions. Mail away if it brings you satisfaction :)

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18748193)

I don't think a couple of sheets of paper are going to make a difference on a 1 ton vehicle carrying hundreds of pounds of mail or a 6 ton plane carrying tons of mail. If you are worried about wasting fuel, get rid of all of your vehicles. And while you are at it, cut off your electricity. Approximately 90% of the electricity used is not needed anyway. By the way, prices will always go up as long as you keep paying.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

Timo_UK (762705) | about 7 years ago | (#18748357)

In the long term this will be GOOD for the environment, because the spammers will hopefully stop their mailings altogether!

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (0, Troll)

dsanfte (443781) | about 7 years ago | (#18747865)

Do you think by doing this, as a single person, you will make a difference? Let me tell you, contrary to what motivational speakers and children's television stars would have told you as a child, a single person does not make a difference by themselves.

Single persons make a difference by getting other, larger groups of many persons to follow them. You are not doing this.

What you are doing, is wasting your time. Feel free to keep doing so, as it hurts no one but yourself, but have no delusions about saving the world from anyone.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (2, Interesting)

Trojan35 (910785) | about 7 years ago | (#18747871)

I always like junk mail. It's one more company helping support the USPS, which I find to be very useful and cheap. Their spam keeps my rates down.

Email on the other hand...

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747879)

Or you could spend your spare time studying remedial English.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (3, Insightful)

Emperor Tiberius (673354) | about 7 years ago | (#18747905)

I get consolidation offers every week. Like most physical spam, I toss it in my shred bag. When the bag gets sufficiently full, I shred it.

Now these scum bags are sending offers in envelopes that say things like "final notice," and "government notice." Shouldn't this be illegal? Now I actually have to examine some of the more deceiving items to make sure they're not real.

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 years ago | (#18748013)

I am still in college, and currently me and everyone I kno

Best. Quote. Ever. :)

Re:My stragegy for stopping the junk mail... (1)

TractorBarry (788340) | about 7 years ago | (#18748337)

I've been doing this for years but you got one of the steps wrong.

1. Rip up their marketing material and put it to one side. Don't fold it up as they can then use it again. Also try not to send the same company their own stuff back.

2. Cram the envelope with bits of ripped up mail. If the company is a persistent offender then make get a big envlope, fill it full of crap and sellotape the envelope to it (if they want it delivering they'll have to pay extra to receive it)

3. Alternatively use the envelope to send some marketing literature of your own. Personally I use Subgenius literature.

4. Put envelope in the post.

Anyone marketing crap to me with a pre paid reply envelope simply gets a load of crap sent back to them. And thankfully we have the telephone preference service [tpsonline.org.uk] in England so I now get zero telemarketing calls.

Helps keep the post service in work too !


File this under... (1)

google (125927) | about 7 years ago | (#18747187)

No shit sherlock. If most universities are moving off SSN's as PK's for students, why is the federales guv'ment still allowed to do so?

No wonder I get 2-3 loan consolidation requests a day... and 1 a week is from the same company where my loans are consolidated! Left hand, meet right hand...

Re:File this under... (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | about 7 years ago | (#18747263)

The federal government uses SSN for federal student financial aid for one simple reason, they only want to give it to legal residents!


Todays mail (1)

Warbringer87 (969664) | about 7 years ago | (#18747209)

2 credit card offers (fuck you visa, fuck you capital one), 1 "pre-approved" loan consolidation, and 2 loan offers. (get 200,000 NOW! You are pre-approved!) loans/grants used to be a way to HELP students go to college. Now they are absolutely fucking necessary to get your degree in a timely fashion. Luckily, got 15K grant, + 6K scholarship. That takes care of 1/3~ of my school costs(not including the large sum i've paid out of pocket already), hopefully I can get some more scholarships and grants to help further. I have a number of loans already, but I really don't want anymore. And yes, I also have a job + full-time school. Living costs a lot of money.

Re:Todays mail (2, Interesting)

LilWolf (847434) | about 7 years ago | (#18748111)

Ah, the joys of living in a socialist nation. Free attendance at universities etc. and no need to rack up tens of thousands in loans just to get a chance at decent jobs and the government pays *you* money for studying. If that's not enough to pay for your living you can get a government guaranteed loan.

The best thing is, you really don't get junk mail from credit card companies or anything like that. If you do, just stick a note on your mail box stating "No advertisements" and the postal office will stop delivering them to you(required by law I believe). Though if they name you as a recipient they'll deliver even ads, but it seems to be quite rare. I've had the "No ads" note up for 3 years and it's a bad month if I get even one advertisement in mail.

For the love of God don't shut it down (1)

geek (5680) | about 7 years ago | (#18747241)

I can handle the junk mail and advertisements but what I can't handle is the complete incompetence of the financial aid department at my school. Without this database it will be a god damned nightmare getting my aid award. It's hard enough WITH the bloody database but without it god help us all.

Going to college? Bend over. (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | about 7 years ago | (#18747245)

It's pretty much a fact of life for college students... Some of the lucky ones avoid the money woes, but the endless deluge of spam and other solicitation is pretty much inevitable. I just try to live with it.

The phrase I think we're all looking for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747381)

is Predatory Lending.

I'd buy that for a dollar (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 7 years ago | (#18747735)

Based on the skills of some of our engineering new hires from expensive schools, I'd say the student aid itself is being misused.

please elaborate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18747801)

It sounds like you like the quality of graduate from our elite universities.

more than $650,000 (2, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 7 years ago | (#18747907)

"Katherine McLane said the agency has spent more than $650,000 since 2003 to safeguard the database."

Wow, a whopping $650k? What's that, two salaries plus expenses?
I think that more accurately spun "the agency has spent less than $700,000 since 2003...."

broken by design (.pdf link) (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | about 7 years ago | (#18747999)

section 3, item (d)...

"To provide financial aid history information, the Department may disclose records to educational institutions and servicers."

it is supposed to make money by integrating with the 'servicers.'

my guess is it is not too hard to be considered a servicer of an educational institution.

link:http://www.ed.gov/notices/pia/nslds.pdf [ed.gov]

i don't post quotes all that often. someone let me know if i just broke a law.

It's not just colleges (2, Informative)

Zorque (894011) | about 7 years ago | (#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.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account