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People walk on the University of Toronto Scarborough campus in Toronto on Nov. 3, 2017.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

The federal government will pay at least $17.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed after a major privacy breach involving about 583,000 student loan recipients.

Firms involved in the class action says they and federal lawyers have agreed to the settlement, subject to court approval in February.

The notice of settlement posted online says that every student who signed up for the class action will receive $60 due to the inconvenience associated with the loss of their personal information.

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They will also receive payments to cover any actual losses directly related to the privacy breach, which could push the overall cost to the government even higher.

The loss of personal information for some 583,000 Canada Student Loan recipients five years ago was one of the worst the federal government had ever suffered.

Personal details on the loan recipients were stored on a small, portable hard drive that went missing from Employment and Social Development Canada's head office in Gatineau, Que.

All those covered received their loans between 2000 and 2007.

The previous Conservative government alerted Canadians to the breach in January 2013, weeks after department officials first noticed the hard drive missing. The government offered to cover years of credit alerts for all those affected.

Those who are part of the class action have until early February to state any objections to proposal.

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