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Pin Protections and Access

PublicationDate: 7/2/96
Summary: Pin Protections and Access
Author: CPS - Central Processing System (CPS)

July 2, 1996

Pin Protections and Access

We wish to share with you the results of our reconsideration of our policy
regarding release of the PIN by ED's contractor who operates the toll-free
Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-4 FED AID).

On June 17, we posted a notice saying that we had changed the instructions
to our 1-800-4 FED AID contractor that had allowed them to release a
Personal Identity Number (PIN) to a caller who identified himself or herself as
a particular student and provided the name, date of birth, Social Security
number, and address of that student. In that notice we said that we felt,
because of privacy concerns, that we had gone too far in allowing the toll-free
number to release the PIN. We also asked for your comments to help us
reexamine this practice.

The twelve comments we received were mostly in favor of releasing the PIN
over the telephone (ten for, two against). Most of the comments noted that
releasing the PIN offered convenience and faster service to students and
noted also that in practical terms, it is unlikely that an aid administrator at a
school would misuse the PIN.

As a result of extensive internal discussions and consultations, and careful
consideration of the comments that were provided, we have determined that
our June action was proper and that we should not allow the the PIN to be
released over the telephone. If a student wants to know his or her PIN and
does not have a copy of a SAR (or SAR Acknowledgement), he or she
should request a duplicate SAR, which will contain the PIN, by calling
1-319-337-5665. If the student has changed addresses, he or she should
write to:

Federal Student Aid Programs
P.O. Box 60004
Cahokia. IL 62206-6004

or to :

Federal Student Aid Programs
P.O. Box 7021
Lawrence, KS 66044,

give his or her name, date of birth, Social Security Number, old address, and
request that the old address be changed to the new one. A duplicate SAR,
containing the PIN, will be sent to the student at the new address.

We weighed this very helpful feedback against the federal obligation to
protect the privacy of the personal information that the student provides on
the FAFSA. While the operators at the toll-free number will discuss
information that the student has reported, those discussions are generally in
the context of a discussion on how to correct a SAR, or a discussion over
what the student thought he or she reported vs. what the student's record
actually shows. If the contents of the FAFSA are to be released to a school
not originally listed on the FAFSA, it can only be with the permission of the
student, who is in control of the PIN and who can provide it to a school. To
protect the student's PIN and his or her right to control where the information
provided on a student aid application is sent, we only provide the PIN on the
paper SAR sent to the applicant. This policy is consistent with other
organizations that will mail a PIN but will not release it over the telephone.

We realize that this will inconvenience schools. However,beginning with the
1997-98 processing year, we anticipate, allowing a student to add a new
school (or schools) to those originally listed on the FAFSA and to make an
address change over the phone using the PIN. The student can call the
Federal Student Aid Information Center's commercial number
(1-319-337-5665), identify himself or herself with the PIN and other
identifying information, and make the changes.

The comments you provided us were very helpful and were a central part of
our extended review of this issue. We will retain them and use them as we
discuss other means we might take to alleviate the issues those those
comments highlighted.

Last Modified: 08/16/1999