Privacy & Security Information


1. What information will be collected for the system?
In general we collect information to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid. The following describes the specific information collected:

A. Student Demographics and Eligibility Information:
Personal demographic information is used to identify you (the student) in our system. In addition to demographics information, questions also are asked to determine your eligibility for aid. This information includes:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Telephone number
  • Driver's license information
  • E-mail address
  • Citizenship information
  • Marital status information
  • State of legal residence information
  • If you are male, have you registered with Selective Service?
  • Highest school your parents completed
  • High school completion status
  • If you are a high school graduate, what is the name of your high school?
  • Will you have your first bachelor's degree?
  • Grade level
  • Degree or certificate you will be working on
  • Interest in being considered for work-study

B. Dependency Status Information:
Dependency status questions on the FAFSA determine whether your parents' information needs to be included on the FAFSA.
The following are the current dependency status questions:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1991?
  • Are you married?
  • At the beginning of 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MBA, MD, JD, or PhD, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

If you answer "Yes" to any of the above questions, you are considered "independent" for federal student aid purposes and parental information is not required on the FAFSA. If you answer "No" to all of the questions, you are considered "dependent" for federal student aid purposes and parental information is required.

C. Parent Demographics Information:
For dependent students, demographic information for the parent is also collected. Parent demographic information includes:

  • Parent(s) last name
  • Parent(s) first name initial
  • Parent(s) date of birth
  • Parent(s) Social Security Number
  • Parent(s) e-mail address
  • Parent(s) marital status information
  • Parent(s) state of legal residence information

D. Financial Information:
Financial information is used to determine the types and amounts of aid that you qualify for once we determine your eligibility for aid. The following describes the types of financial questions that are asked. For dependent students, these financial questions are asked of the parents and student. For independent students, these financial questions are asked only of the student.

  • Completed an income tax return?
  • Type of tax return filed
  • Adjusted gross income
  • Income tax
  • Exemptions claimed
  • Earnings from work
  • Balance in cash/savings/checking accounts
  • Net worth of investments
  • Net worth of businesses and/or investment farms
  • Other financial information such as education credits, child support paid, taxable grant or scholarship aid received, etc.
  • Untaxed income such as tax-deferred pension payments, child support received, untaxed portions of IRA distributions, etc.
  • Parents' number of family members (dependent students only)
  • College students in parents' household (dependent students only)
  • Number of family members (independent students only)
  • College students in household (independent students only)
  • Receiving other federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Free or Reduced Price School Lunch, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)?
  • Dislocated worker status

E. School Selection Information:
We will send your FAFSA data and processed results to each of the schools that you list on your FAFSA. The application allows up to ten federal school codes to be listed on your application at one time. The application also allows you to select your housing plans for each college.

F. Signing and Submission:
You are required to sign your FAFSA on the Web application. If you are a dependent student, your parent must also sign the application. Signing the application certifies that you or your parent will not violate the regulations governing Federal Student Aid. The signature confirms that the signer understands and agrees that:

  • You will use federal and/or state student financial aid only to pay the cost of attending an institution of higher education;
  • You are either not in default on a federal student loan or have made satisfactory arrangements to repay it;
  • You do not owe money back on a federal student grant or have made satisfactory arrangements to repay it;
  • You will notify your school if you default on a federal student loan; and
  • You will not receive a Federal Pell Grant from more than one school for the same period of time.

G. Non-personal information we record (use of cookies):
No cookies or other tracking technology are used on the Web site. Cookies are small programs placed on the user's computer that track the user's whereabouts. If you do nothing during your visit but browse through the Web site, read pages, or download information, our Web site's operating system will automatically record some general information about your visit.

During your visit, our Web operating system will record:

  • The Internet domain for your Internet service, such as "xcompany.com" or "xcompany.net" if you use a private Internet access account, or "yourschool.edu" if you connect from a college or university domain.
  • The type of browser (such as "Internet Explorer version x" or "Firefox version x") that you are using.
  • The type of operating system that you use (such as Macintosh, UNIX, or Windows).
  • The date and time you visited our site, and the Web pages you visit on our site.
  • The address of the previous Web site you were visiting, if you linked to us from another Web site.

H. Financial Aid Administrator information:
If the Financial Aid Administrator at your school creates or modifies your record, your record will contain personal Financial Aid Administrator information that is entered when your Financial Aid Administrator accesses the Web site. The privacy information of the Financial Aid Administrator will not be viewable by you.

I. Information from e-mail you send to us:
E-mail is not a secure method of communicating personal information. Do not send us personally identifying information in your e-mail. If you decide to send us an electronic mail message that includes information you send to Customer Service regarding a problem, the message may contain your return e-mail address. If you include personally identifying information in your e-mail because you want us to address issues specific to your situation, the information will not be used, but will be destroyed.

Also, information that you e-mail to our customer service Web site is not secure against interception. Do not send us personally identifying information in your e-mail. If your communication is sensitive, or includes personal information such as data from your tax return or student loan account, mail it by postal mail to:

Federal Student Aid Information Center, P.O. Box 84, Washington, D.C. 20044

J. Links to Other Sites:
Our policy discloses the privacy practices for FAFSA on the Web. The Department is not responsible for information you provide when you link to any non-Department of Education Web sites.

2. Why is this information being collected?
Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended we are allowed to ask for the information on this form so that we can determine whether you are eligible for aid, and, if so, how much. Application information submitted on FAFSA on the Web is collected from you, as the student, your parents, and financial aid administrators to determine your EFC (used to establish your eligibility for federal, state, and institutional student aid), to identify the schools to which your processed record is to be sent; and to collect your certification that the information is correct and that you agree to comply with federal regulations. See #1 above to identify the specific data elements used for each purpose.

3. Am I required to provide all of the information requested?
Providing information is voluntary; however, if you do not give us all of the information we need to process your FAFSA, your aid may be delayed or denied. If you want federal student aid only, you do not have to answer certain questions. See Questions You Don't Have to Answer for more information. Of course, if you want to apply for state financial aid, you must answer all the relevant questions.

4. How will FSA use this information?
Information in this system will be used by Federal Student Aid to create a unique record, determine your dependency status, calculate your EFC, identify the schools to which the processed record is to be sent, and collect your certification that the information is correct and that you agree to comply with federal regulations. See #1 above to identify the specific data elements used for each purpose.

5. Will this information be shared with any other agency or entity? If so, with which agency or agencies/entities?
Yes. ED may disclose information in this system, without the consent of the individual, in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act. This includes disclosures under the routine uses listed in the Privacy Act System of Records notice if the disclosure is compatible with the purposes for which the record was collected. Specific routine use disclosures include the following:
  • To the postsecondary institution that the applicant designates on the application
  • To state agencies having agreements with the Secretary for the purposes of coordinating student aid and counseling students on FAFSA completion and postsecondary education
  • To parent(s) of a dependent applicant or an applicant's spouse
  • To local educational agencies for the purposes of coordinating student aid and counseling students on FAFSA completion and postsecondary education
  • To secondary schools for the purposes of coordinating student aid and counseling students on FAFSA completion and postsecondary education
  • For Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advice Disclosure, to the Department of Justice and the Office of Management and Budget
  • For Contract Disclosure
  • For Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Disclosures
  • For Research Disclosure
  • For Congressional Member Disclosure
  • For Disclosure for Use By Other Law Enforcement Agencies
  • For Enforcement Disclosure
  • For Employment, Benefit, and Contracting Disclosure for decisions by the department and for decisions by other public agencies and professional organizations
  • For Employee Grievance, Complaint, or Conduct Disclosure
  • For Labor Organization Disclosure
  • For Disclosure to OMB for Federal Credit Reform Act Support
  • For Disclosures to third parties through legally authorized computer matching programs
  • For Disclosure to DOJ
  • For Disclosure to Consumer Reporting Agencies
  • For Disclosure to third parties in the course of responding to breach of data

These disclosures may be made on a case-by-case basis. Where a computer matching agreement has been authorized, ED, consistent with the requirements of the Privacy Act, may disclose personally identifying information to another agency designated in the computer matching agreement.

If you request us to do so, in order to enable you to obtain information from other Federal agencies' records that will assist you in completing the FAFSA online we may disclose information from this system of records to other Federal agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service. However, without your specific consent, we will not disclose your information for this purpose.

Records will only be disclosed in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act. Any contractor responsible for the operations of this Web site is held to the privacy and security requirements of the Department of Education in the handling of information collected through the Web site.

A link to the Privacy Act Statement is provided on the home page of the Web site.

6. Describe the notice or opportunities for consent that would be or are provided to individuals about what information is collected and how that information is shared with other organizations:

A Privacy Act Statement is incorporated into the FAFSA on the Web Privacy Policy articulating the specific authority for collecting personal information that will be maintained and retrieved by name or identifier from a Privacy Act system of records, the mandatory or voluntary nature of the information collected and the uses of the information. A link to the Privacy Act Statement is provided on the FAFSA on the Web home page.

As a government agency Web site accessed by students, parents, and financial aid administrators, this Privacy Policy is appropriately posted for all Web site users. This is a general policy, which applies to the handling of any information collected at the site. The policy highlights the voluntary nature of information collected, and explains which data elements are necessary in order to fully consider an application. The notice advises that if a student does not provide all of the information needed to process the student's FAFSA, federal student aid may be delayed or denied. Users are notified that providing the information constitutes consent to all of its uses, and they are given no option affirmatively to consent to certain limited uses. In addition, the policy notifies customers about the automatic recording and potential uses of any non-personal information about a visit (i.e., site management data).

7. How will the information be secured?
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires the completion of a system security plan in Circular A-130, "Management of Federal Information Resources," Appendix III, "Security of Federal Automated Information Resources," and Public Law (P.L.) 100-235, "Computer Security Act of 1987." The Web site's System Security Plan and Configuration Management Plan demonstrating its compliance with the Information Technology requirements mandated by federal law and policy are included in ED's Central Processing System (CPS) security plan. The security plan contains details regarding the Risk Assessment conducted for the Web site, as well as the security controls (hardware/software/facilities/personnel) in place to mitigate any identified risks to the information collected on the Web site. Management, operational, and technical security controls are in place for the Web site, encompassing personnel, physical environment access, contingency plans, disaster recovery, and identification and authentication procedures. The Web site is currently in the operations/maintenance phase of the life cycle. As such, the following functions are being performed: security operations and administration, operational assurance, audits and monitoring. There is a System Security Officer (SSO) for the Web site.

8. Is a system of records being created or updated with the collection of this information?
Yes, a system of records has been created for this collection of information. Users are provided notice of rights under the Privacy Act via links to the agency Privacy Act regulations (5 C.F.R. Part 5b.) and to the Privacy Act system of records notice for the Web site. The original notice entitled, "Federal Student Aid Application File (18-11-01)" was published in the Federal Register on June 4, 1999 (64 FR 30159). This notice was subsequently amended on: December 27, 1999 (64 FR 72407), March 2, 2000 (65 FR 11294), April 11, 2001 (66 FR 18758), and December 2009 (74 FR 68802).

9. List the Web addresses (known or planned) that will have a Privacy Policy.
http://www.fafsa.gov
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