Find out how the Financial Aid Toolkit collects and protects information.

See how we record nonpersonal information and use the information you submit voluntarily.

Privacy

This page explains our policies to safeguard your information.

Privacy Policy
Nonpersonal Information We Collect
How Cookies and Other Technologies Are Used
How to Opt Out or Disable Cookies
How Third-party Tools Are Used
How the Information Collected Is Used
How Long We Keep Data
Links to Other Sites
Security
Additional Information


Privacy Policy

Thank you for visiting the Financial Aid Toolkit. Our privacy policy is simple: We collect no personal information about you unless you choose to provide that information to us. We do not give, share, sell, or transfer any personal information to a third party.

If you want to know more about how we record nonpersonal information about your visit or how we use information that you voluntarily submit, read on.

Otherwise, enjoy your visit!

This privacy policy was last updated on May 14, 2017.

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Nonpersonal Information We Collect

Certain information about your visit can be collected when you browse websites. When you browse the Financial Aid Toolkit, we, and, in some cases, our third-party service providers can collect the following types of nonpersonal information about your visit:

  • 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)
  • IP address (an IP or internet protocol address is a number that is automatically assigned to a device connected to the web)
  • Device type (desktop computer, tablet, or type of mobile device)
  • Type of browser (such as "Chrome version x" or "Internet Explorer version x") that you are using
  • Type of operating system that you use (such as Macintosh, Unix, or Windows)
  • Date and time you visit our site, and the web pages that you visit on our site
  • Address of the previous website you were visiting, if you linked to us from another website
  • Screen resolution
  • Browser language
  • Geographic location
  • Time spent on page
  • Scroll depth (i.e., how much of a web page was viewed)
  • User events (things you do on the site, e.g., clicking on a button)

We use this information to measure the number of visitors to our site and its various sections. This information helps us make our site more useful to visitors and improve our public education and outreach. This tracking system does not record identifiable information about individuals.

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How Cookies and Other Technologies Are Used

The Office of Management and Budget Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies, allows federal agencies to use session and persistent cookies subject to the limitations described within the guidance.

Cookies from FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov web pages collect information only about your browser's visit to the site. They do not collect any personal information about you.

There are two types of cookies:

  • Session cookies: We use temporary session cookies for technical purposes such as enabling better navigation through our site. These temporary cookies let our server know that you're continuing a visit to our site. The OMB Memo 10-22 guidance defines our use of temporary session cookies as "Usage Tier 1 – single session." The guidance states, "This tier encompasses any use of single-session web measurement and customization technologies." A single-session cookie lasts only as long as your web browser is open. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears.
  • Persistent cookies: We use persistent cookies to enable Google Analytics (a third-party analytics provider) tracking. Persistent cookies from Google Analytics remain on your computer between visits to FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov for up to two years. The OMB Memo 10-22 guidance defines our use of persistent cookies as "Usage Tier 2 – multi-session session without PII [personally identifiable information]." The guidance states, "This tier encompasses any use of multi-session web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected."

FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov uses third-party analytics providers (e.g., Google Analytics) to analyze the data collected through the session and persistent cookies. These third-party analytics providers do not receive PII through these cookies and do not combine, match, or cross-reference FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov information with any other information. We view aggregate statistical analyses prepared by our third-party analytics providers, and these analyses do not include any PII. We do not sell, rent, exchange, or otherwise disclose this information to individuals or organizations.

Pursuant to OMB Memo 10-22, the session and persistent cookies collect information similar to that automatically received and stored on the servers hosting FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov. These servers do not collect PII, and FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov does not access or store the raw information collected through these cookies.

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How to Opt Out or Disable Cookies

Your website browser's standard setting enables cookies by default. If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies stored on your machine, find out how to opt out or disable cookies in your browser. You will still have access to all the information and resources throughout the site. However, turning off cookies may affect the functioning of some content within FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov. Be aware that disabling cookies in your browser will affect cookie usage at all other websites you visit as well.


How Third-party Tools Are Used

Website Analytics

Federal Student Aid uses the third-party tool, Google Analytics, to support website analytics. Federal Student Aid uses Google Analytics to collect basic site usage information:

  • how many visits FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov receives
  • the pages visited
  • time spent on the site
  • the number of return visits to the site
  • the approximate location of the device used to access the site
  • types of devices used

This information is then used to maintain the website including monitoring site stability, measuring site traffic, optimizing site content, and helping make the site more useful to visitors. You can opt out or disable tracking in your browser.

Digital Advertising Tools for Outreach and Education

Federal Student Aid uses third-party tools to support our digital advertising outreach and education efforts. These tools enable Federal Student Aid to reach new people and provide information to previous visitors. In order to use these tools, we may use the following technologies on the Financial Aid Toolkit:

  • Click Tracking: Federal Student Aid may use click tracking to identify the messaging and/or ads that are most helpful to consumers and efficient for outreach. This enables Federal Student Aid to improve the performance of messaging or ads that consumers click on. When users click on links from any messaging or ad, data about what ad was viewed is collected. Reports are generated about ad performance, including the total number of views and clicks an ad received. You can opt out or disable tracking in your browser.
  • Conversion Tracking: Federal Student Aid may use conversion tracking to identify ads that are helpful to consumers and efficient for outreach. This enables Federal Student Aid to improve the performance of ads viewed by consumers. When a Financial Aid Toolkit ad is viewed on a third-party site (e.g., a banner ad), a cookie is placed in the browser of the device the ad was viewed on. If this device later visits the Financial Aid Toolkit, the visit is linked to the ad viewed on the same device. This information helps Federal Student Aid determine which messaging and/or ads are more likely to generate visits to our websites. You can opt out or disable tracking in your browser. You also can click on the "AdChoices" icon in the corner of our ads to opt out of this ad targeting. Users who have set their browser to "Do Not Track" will automatically be opted out of conversion tracking.

Other Tools

Many of the tools (such as Google Analytics) that Federal Student Aid uses to gather visitor data and monitor the health of the Financial Aid Toolkit are deployed using Tealium iQ. Tealium iQ gives Federal Student Aid and its staff and contractors an easy way to manage these tools.

In the future, Federal Student Aid may consider using additional third-party tools that may improve site performance or customer outreach. Federal Student Aid will provide information on any new tools used on the Financial Aid Toolkit below:

  • Federal Student Aid uses the third-party tool Crazy Egg on the Financial Aid Toolkit. Crazy Egg is a tool that creates visual displays of overall site visitor activity on the website. If you wish to opt out of Crazy Egg collecting information when you visit the Financial Aid Toolkit, please see the Crazy Egg opt-out instructions.

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How the Information Collected Is Used

Analytics Data

Federal Student Aid uses a variety of tools to support web analytics. Federal Student Aid's staff analyzes the data collected from these tools. The data and resulting reports are available only to Federal Student Aid managers, members of Federal Student Aid's communications and web teams, and other designated federal staff and contractors who need this information to perform their duties.

Information From the "Contact Us" Page

If you decide to send us an email, the message will contain your return email address. If you include personally identifying information in your email because you want us to address issues specific to your situation, we may use that information in responding to your request. This information is not maintained in a Privacy Act system of records.

Also, email is not necessarily secure against interception. Please send only the information necessary to help us process your request. Do not email your Social Security number. If we need your Social Security number, we will get it from you using an alternative method.

Partner Email Registration

If you opt in to our partner email list, we will collect your contact information, along with information regarding the organization you work for. Your information will be stored in our customer relationship management system and will not be shared with outside entities. Once you join the partner email list, you'll receive several emails per year with updates about our products and services, reminders about upcoming professional development opportunities, tips for outreach to students, and more. The emails we send are intended to keep counselors and mentors up to date; they do not contain information for students or parents. You may unsubscribe from the partner email list at any time by clicking on the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of a partner email you receive.

Information From the "Was this page helpful?" Tile

Certain pages on the Financial Aid Toolkit include a section or "tile" on the right-hand side where you can indicate if the page content was helpful. A text box also is provided so you can share additional information or feedback. Once the feedback is submitted, this information is stored in order to help identify possible future improvements to the site. No personal information will be collected unless you provide it in the text box and click the "Submit" button. However, if you would like to send us information so we can address an issue specific to your situation, then please send us an email.

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How Long We Keep Data

Federal Student Aid will keep data long enough to achieve the specified objective for which the data were collected. The Financial Aid Toolkit issues session cookies—cookies that expire when you close your browser, ending your session on the site. Third-party tools on the site use persistent cookies, which can be stored on a user's local system and are set to expire at varying time periods depending upon the cookie. You can opt out or disable cookies in your browser.

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Our policy covers the privacy practices for the Financial Aid Toolkit. However, the Financial Aid Toolkit provides links to other websites. When you leave FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, you will often be going to sites that are beyond our control. We try to ensure that links that leave our site are clearly labeled. These other sites may send their own cookies to users, collect data, or solicit personal information.

The privacy policy and procedures described here for FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov do not apply to any external links. We encourage you to read the privacy policies of any site you link to from ours, especially if you share any personal information.

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Security

Federal agencies are required to complete a system security plan for all federal information systems. FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov has completed a system security plan demonstrating its compliance with the IT requirements mandated by federal law and policy. The security plan contains details regarding the risk assessment conducted for the website, as well as the security controls (hardware, software, facilities, personnel) in place to mitigate any identified risks to the information collected on the website. Management, operational, and technical security controls are in place for the website, encompassing personnel, physical environment access, contingency plans, disaster recovery, and identification and authentication procedures. The following functions are being performed: security operations and administration, operational assurance, audits, and monitoring.

For site security purposes and to make sure this service remains available to all users, this government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information or otherwise cause damage. Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information on this site are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act. Server logs are scheduled for regular destruction in accordance with the National Archives and Records Administration General Records Schedule 3.1: General Technology Management Records.

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Additional Information

Any additional privacy questions should be directed to the U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Office. The Department of Education's privacy compliance materials are available at the "Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)" and "Privacy Act System of Records Notice Issuances (SORN)" pages.

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