The SEC has fined some of the nation’s largest online schools $150 million, according to a report Wednesday.
The $150 billion in penalties were announced in a joint news release from the SEC’s Enforcement Division and the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General.
The penalties for schools that are found to have been involved in at least 1,000 breaches of student data, including the misuse of student financial aid information, are a “vital tool” to address student privacy and access to information, the release said.
The schools can receive up to a $50,000 fine for each breach, which can be suspended or reduced by up to 25 percent.
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White, who chaired the hearing, called it “a watershed moment for our nation’s schools.”
The SEC announced the $150m penalties last week after the Justice Department launched a federal probe into schools that allegedly violated federal student privacy laws.
It has already fined Corinthian Colleges $250 million, and the federal government has issued a $200 million fine to a former Corinthian employee.
The new $150mn penalty comes after the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights accused the Corinthian chain of violating federal student data privacy laws by failing to disclose to students and alumni that it had been hacked in the 2016 hack of the school’s website.