The head of the federal Education Department’s student loan office is stepping down amid growing criticism that the agency has been lax in overseeing the student loan industry.

Theresa Shaw is leaving her post as chief operating officer of the Federal Student Aid office, a job she has held since 2002, the department said in a statement. The office administers federal student aid programs.

Shaw’s resignation comes as the department faces tough questions about apparent conflicts of interest and the privacy of student loan applicants’ information. A computer database that contains financial information about students recently was...

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