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Welcome to "YourPlanForTheFuture," the Web portal of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority ("MEFA"), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. MEFA and its partners provide this service to you subject to this Privacy Policy relating to the collection and use of personal information. By visiting this website and using the YourPlanForTheFuture services, you agree to be bound by the terms of our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.

INTRODUCTION

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority ("MEFA" or "we") uses industry standard practices to safeguard the confidentiality of your personal information. MEFA recognizes and respects the privacy interests of MEFA users and is committed to protecting that privacy and keeping users informed about our privacy policy.

UPDATES AND CHANGES TO THIS POLICY

We may update this privacy policy from time to time to reflect changes in the manner in which we deal with personal information, whether to comply with then applicable regulations and self-regulatory standards or otherwise. The privacy policy posted here will always be current. Unless stated otherwise, our current privacy policy applies to all information that we have about you. We will not materially change our policies and practices to make them less protective of personal information collected in the past without the consent of affected users.

WHAT THIS PRIVACY POLICY COVERS

  • The information, including the personal identifying information, that we collect
  • Reasons we collect your personal identifying information
  • Ways in which information, including personal identifying information may be used and disclosed
  • Security measures to prevent misuse of information entrusted to MEFA
  • Cookies
  • Modifying and deleting your information
  • Methods of enforcing this Policy

THE INFORMATION WE COLLECT

"YourPlanForTheFuture" collects information about you, including personally identifying information such as your name, date of birth, address, e-mail address, telephone number, grade level and such additional information as you are required to provide by the college and financial aid applications that you choose to complete. "YourPlanForTheFuture" also collects personal identifying information in the form of your student records, which records are made available to us by contracting high schools that designate MEFA as an agent or contractor to help collect and process such information for the purpose of facilitating guidance counseling relating to the college selection process, and also from our partners, the Massachusetts Department of Education and Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education. Student records collected may include student names, student identification numbers, e-mail addresses, GPA, grades, courses taken, standardized test scores, and related information on college application plans and acceptance.

When you log on to www.YourPlanForTheFuture.org, your browser will automatically transmit to our server the IP address of your computer and type of browser you are using. (An IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the Web). Although your browser transmits the IP address of your computer, we do not associate this IP address with any personally identifiable information. We may collect aggregate and anonymized information about you and your use of our Website whenever you visit us online. For instance, we may collect various forms of "click stream" information such as entry and exit points for our website (i.e. referring URLs or domains), site traffic statistics, page views, impressions, and operating system and browser type. In addition, when users request pages on our website, our servers may automatically log their IP addresses. This aggregate information generally will not personally identify you or be correlated to you individually for external purposes.

In sum, YourPlanForTheFuture does not collect any personally identifiable information about users other than what users submit and their browsers transmit, and student records obtained from high schools and our partners. No personal information will be released without your prior approval and only for a designated purpose, subject to the exceptions noted below under "Ways In Which Information May Be Used and Disclosed".

MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF STUDENT INFORMATION

High schools and our partners provide MEFA and "YourPlanForTheFuture" with student information. Schools may provide student names, student identification numbers, e-mail addresses, GPA, grades, courses taken, standardized test scores, and related information on college application plans and acceptances.

"YourPlanForTheFuture" and MEFA handles student information received from educational institutions and operates, on behalf of contracting schools, in compliance with federal and state school privacy laws, including The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records, and applies to all schools receiving federal funding. With certain exceptions, this law prohibits schools from releasing personally identifying information of students under the age of 18 without parental consent. By designating MEFA as a "school official" and/or a designated contractor to facilitate guidance counseling in connection with college selection, institutions are permitted to share data with MEFA without express, parental consent under the exception provided by 34 CFR § 99.31 (a)(1).

The classification as a "school official", or as a contracted company with a "legitimate educational interest" is described by the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO). The FPCO FERPA policy and advisory materials on this issue can be found at
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html and
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/lea-officials.html.

REASONS WE COLLECT YOUR PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION

MEFA, through "YourPlanForTheFuture," collects personal information from you for three reasons. The first reason is to enable us to respond to your questions or contact you when necessary in connection with the functioning of the Web portal. The second reason is to perform a task, such as filling out a college application, requested by you. Finally, as described earlier, we collect additional information about users to help us better facilitate the use of our service.

WAYS IN WHICH YOUR INFORMATION MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED

Except as set forth below, the personally identifiable data you submit to the Web portal (or that "YourPlanForTheFuture" obtains from your school or from our partners) is not made available or distributed to third parties, except with your express consent and at your direction. In particular, unless otherwise specified below, neither MEFA nor "YourPlanForTheFuture" will give, sell or provide access to your personal information to any company, individual or organization for its use in marketing or commercial solicitation or for any other purpose, except as is necessary for the operation of this site.

WAYS IN WHICH PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION MAY BE USED

1. Forms and Surveys. The Web portal will use your personal identifying information to automatically fill out the forms and surveys noted below upon your instructions to do so.

  • Applications for admission
  • Financial aid applications
  • Freshman and transfer planners, which can assist you in selecting courses and otherwise planning to meet admission requirements
  • Requests for information or material from colleges or other institutions you specify

Unless expressly instructed or authorized by you, these forms and surveys are not disclosed to third parties.

2. Internal Analysis. We may use your information, including your personally identifying information to help diagnose problems with MEFA's servers and to administer the Web portal. We may aggregate your information with the information of other users for our own internal statistical, design, operational purposes such as to estimate our audience size; measure aggregate traffic patterns; and understand demographic, customer interest and other trends among our guests and customers.

3. Use and Disclosure of Aggregated Data. As described earlier, we may collect aggregate and anonymized information about you and your use of "YourPlanForTheFuture" whenever you visit us online. This aggregate information generally will not personally identify you or be correlated to you individually for external purposes. We may collect, compile, store, publish, promote, report, sell, or otherwise disclose or use any and all aggregate information, provided that, such information does not personally identify you. When we share such information with other companies, or with contracting schools, it is not traceable to any particular user, and will not be used to contact you. If we do correlate any aggregate information to you, such information will be treated like any other personal identifying information under this Policy.

4. Compliance with the Law and Other Special Circumstances. When required by law to comply with any valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, regulation or court order, MEFA will supply such information contained in your "YourPlanForTheFuture" account that MEFA may be legally required to supply. In addition, MEFA may release specific information relevant to special cases, such as a physical threat to you or others or an attempted breach of security on the Web portal.

5. Permission-Based Support Services. From time to time, users will be offered resources and support services related to their use of the site. For example, users who select colleges for their college list often elect to receive additional information from and/or have online interaction with those colleges. Whether or not information is received by users from interested parties is permission-based. Users will affirmatively choose to receive such information and have such interactions, at their sole discretion. Users may receive reminders of these opportunities or invitations to participate in certain activities (such as an online chat) in order to maximize their college search and application process but will make individual decisions regarding participation.

6. Legal Rights to Protect and Defend. We may disclose personal information if required to do so by law or in good faith believe that such action is necessary to protect and/or defend our rights or property.

SECURITY MEASURES TO PREVENT MISUSE OF INFORMATION ENTRUSTED TO US

We use technical, administrative and physical safeguards to maintain the security of your information. We enable the data you input to be encrypted when in route between your browser and the Web portal server and when in route between the Web portal server and some other browser or server. This practice helps prevent unauthorized third parties from intercepting and gaining access to your private data during transmission over the Internet. We use industry-standard encryption supported by all popular Web browsers.

Data residing on the Web portal server is password protected, and access is provided only to those employees of MEFA who require such access to administer and maintain our system or to provide requested customer support to users of the Web portal. Each MEFA employee who has access to the data residing on the Web portal server has agreed in writing to respect the privacy of all such personal data.

ISSUANCE OF PASSWORDS; MUTUAL OBLIGATION TO PROTECT PRIVACY

You will be asked to establish a password before you will be permitted to access the Web portal. These passwords are the property of MEFA and for security reasons must not be disclosed to any other party. Passwords identify the user as a member of the "YourPlanForTheFuture" Web portal. Members acknowledge that disclosing passwords to others will result in the termination of their rights to use the Web portal and that the misuse of passwords or misrepresentation of identity by use of another's password may compromise our security, causing irreparable harm to MEFA and allowing MEFA to enforce its rights under the Terms of Use. If you lose control of your password, you may lose substantial control of your personally identifiable information and may be subject to legally binding actions taken on your behalf. Therefore if your password has been compromised for any reason, you should immediately contact MEFA to deactivate your old password and apply for a new password. MEFA will not disclose a member's password to any third-party, except as may be required by law or as otherwise described in the Terms of Use and in the "WAYS IN WHICH YOUR INFORMATION MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED" section above.

MEFA shall not be responsible for any damages incurred as a result of unauthorized use of your password and hereby expressly DISCLAIMS all responsibility for any such damages.

COOKIES

A cookie is a small file that a website transfers to a user's computer, which may then be stored on its hard drive. The Web portal uses cookies to remember you and personalize your web-viewing experience by keeping track of your session when logged on to "YourPlanForTheFuture." Cookies enable you to maintain continuity as you move from page to page on the Web portal and to avoid the nuisance of being asked to provide the same information repeatedly. Cookies also allow us to make sure that only your browser can exchange information regarding your account with our servers. Cookies cannot be used to steal personal information or to gain access to information that you did not directly provide. The cookies we use are set when you log on to www.YourPlanForTheFuture.org and are erased when you log off the Web portal or completely close your browser.

DON'T WANT COOKIES?

Most browsers are initially set to accept cookies. If you don't want cookies, you can set your browser to disable or refuse cookies or to alert you when cookies are being used. You should note, however, that functionality on the Web portal will be compromised.

MODIFYING, CORRECTING, OR DELETING YOUR INFORMATION

You may update, otherwise modify or delete from the data stored on the Web portal any personal information you previously provided. To modify personal information, (i) log on to www.YourPlanForTheFuture.org, (ii) access either your user profile or an application containing the information you want to change, and (iii) modify that information using standard word-processing techniques. To delete personal information, (i) log on to www.YourPlanForTheFuture.org, (ii) access your user profile, and (iii) delete the information you want to remove from your Web portal account using standard word-processing techniques. Please recognize that if you delete information, it will no longer be available through your account.

If you are unable to change your profile using the standard Web portal service features, or wish to delete or modify your student records provided to MEFA by your school, or delete your account from the MEFA system, you may:

1. Send e-mail to support@yourplanforthefuture.org or
2. Call 866-322-8241 and speak to a YourPlanForTheFuture representative to request a correction or deletion.

ENFORCEMENT

MEFA is committed to ensuring the integrity and security of user information. MEFA intends to pursue all legal remedies available to it in the event that its security measures and/or this Policy is breached, including but not limited to pursuit of all criminal and civil law enforcement proceedings available as of the occurrence of any breach. Should you believe that your data has been released or used in a way that is contrary to your rights or this Policy you should contact either the helpdesk at support@yourplanforthefuture.org, or call 866-322-8241 and ask to speak to a YourPlanForTheFuture representative.

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