The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) is a federal ruling that applies to all entities that collect consumer financial data, including institutions of higher education. This law, specifically the Safeguards Rule, applies to how organizations collect, store, and use student financial records that contain personally identifiable information (PII). Examples of student data that need to be protected under the GLBA include information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, student application information, and student information shared with loan servicers. Higher education institutions have been required to comply with the provisions of the GLBA since 2003, but the Department of Education (DoED) didn’t actually enforce them until recently.
Following the issuance of that letter, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s 2019 Compliance Supplement included compliance requirements related to the GLBA and student information security. As a result, higher education institutions’ compliance with the GLBA was required to be tested as part of each institution’s single audit.
So, what does your institution need to do to ensure compliance with the GLBA for future Single Audits? The Compliance Supplement requires institutions to complete the following steps:
Designate an individual to coordinate the information security program
Perform a risk assessment that addresses the following areas:
Employee training and management
Information systems, including network and software design, as well as information processing, storage, transmission and disposal
Detecting, preventing and responding to attacks, intrusions, or other systems failures
Document safeguards for identified risks
The DoED has made it clear that data security and student privacy are critical issues. It’s unclear what the repercussions will be for repeat findings, but failure to comply with the provisions of the GLBA could result in restriction or loss of eligibility for certain federal funding.
If you’d like further information on how to comply with the GLBA, please refer to page 5-3-52 of the revised August 2019 Compliance Supplement:
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