United States: Cybersecurity Lapses Could Cost Title IV Eligibility For Higher Ed

Data security breaches are an unfortunate reality for almost all businesses in today’s information-driven marketplace. From Target, to Home Depot, to Equifax, data breaches are increasingly common and potentially devastating for businesses and their customers. But data breaches are not limited to traditional businesses. Any entity that collects, holds, or uses personal information, and in particular, personal financial information, faces risks from data breaches.

One group that may not fully appreciate these risks are institutions of higher education. Most schools may be familiar with the data security and privacy requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). But for schools that participate in the Federal Title IV Educational Assistance Programs, there may be additional data security and privacy requirements they should be aware of. 

One such law, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), applies to “financial institutions.” While these “financial institutions” would include traditional banks, credit unions, and savings and loans, the law’s definition of “financial institution” encompasses all entities that are “significantly engaged” in providing financial products or services — including student loans. Failure to comply with GLBA’s privacy and security requirements can subject schools to GLBA penalties. But potentially more importantly, where Title IV schools suffer cybersecurity breaches or are found to be deficient in cybersecurity protections, the Department of Education has made clear that such schools may face restrictions on Title IV funding, including a complete loss of eligibility.

What do Title IV schools need to know? 

The Department of Education has made clear that Title IV schools must comply with cybersecurity regulations — including those found in GLBA. The Department has begun the process of incorporating GLBA security controls into its Annual Audit Guide and will soon require evidence of compliance with GLBA as part of schools’ annual student aid compliance audit. 

Thus, at a minimum, Title IV schools must understand the requirements of GLBA and ensure compliance with those requirements. GLBA requires Title IV schools to take specific actions in order to protect personal information in their possession. One such action is that schools must develop their own cybersecurity programs. While no set of guidelines could cover every organization’s specific needs, the Department of Education has issued some guidelines that should be considered with the development of every cybersecurity program. These requirements include:

  • Assessing the personal information collected, stored, accessed, used, and transmitted by the Title IV school. This assessment should include not just the school, but any and all vendors, contractors, and other third parties that provide personal information to or, as part of their services for the school, have access to, personal information entrusted to the school.
  • Appointing an employee or set of employees to manage the school’s cybersecurity program. This person does not have to be a new hire, and may have other responsibilities at the school, but they need to be the point of contact and have ultimate responsibility for running and managing the cybersecurity program. 
  • Implementing physical and technical safeguards for all personal information in the school’s possession. This would include not just IT features like firewalls, but would encompass limiting access to secure areas (both on the system and in physical facilities) with passcodes and security cards as well as making sure that only those employees, vendors, or staff with a legitimate need have access to the school’s personal information.
  • Developing written policies and procedures to govern the handling, management, and transmission of the school’s personal information.  Along with the policies, the school must make sure that its employees, and any third parties like vendors or contractors, are made aware of the policies and procedures, trained on them, and appropriately disciplined if they are not followed.
  • Auditing the school’s technical, physical, and procedural protections to make sure that they are performing as expected and making adjustments to any protections that are not performing as expected.
  • Ensuring that vendors, contractors, consultants, and other service providers who have access to sensitive information are subject to the requirements of the cybersecurity policy and are contractually bound to protect sensitive information.

In addition to developing a cybersecurity program, it is important for schools to properly train their employees, managers, staff, and vendors on their cybersecurity programs. The most thorough and well thought out cybersecurity program is meaningless if it is deployed without the full support of the organization. 

The people required to implement, manage, and maintain that program must understand it, appreciate its importance, and be properly incentivized to follow and adhere to it. Management must make sure that violations of the program are addressed appropriately. Vendors who do not want to comply or choose not to comply with the program must be dropped. Training must be held on a reoccurring basis — not just when employees are hired. Employees and management alike must understand how the cybersecurity program works, their role in the program, and how they can help improve the program over time.

For additional insight and tips regarding cybersecurity, please see this overview, “Cybersecurity for Title IV Schools,” from the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions