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Administrator’s Inadvertent Reply-All Reveals Student’s Self-Reported Financial Aid Status

Spokesperson calls the incident ‘an inadvertent and regrettable mistake’

By Madeline R. Conway, Crimson Staff Writer

A student’s self-reported financial aid status was made public to the student body Monday when a College administrator inadvertently replied-all to the student’s email inquiring about Pre-Term Planning.

Writing from a Pre-Term Planning email account, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education Katherine Stanton carbon-copied her reply to the student’s email to a Pre-Term Planning Mailman list, which went directly to other College students’ accounts. In the accidentally shared email, the student identified as “a financial aid student.”

The Crimson reached the student via email on Tuesday and chose not to publish a name in order to protect the student’s privacy.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, College spokesperson Colin Manning described the incident as “an inadvertent and regrettable mistake.”

“The Office of Undergraduate Education apologizes for the error. Student privacy is of the utmost importance, and OUE is working to put in place controls to prevent something like this from happening again," Manning wrote.

The College Handbook for Students’ statement of privacy for financial information states that “all information submitted for the purpose of securing financial aid is protected under Harvard’s Enterprise Security policy, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act of 2000 (GLB). Under these provisions, Harvard ensures the privacy and safeguarding of all financial aid information.” The statement does not directly address a policy regarding students’ statements about their financial aid status.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at mconway@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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