Information About FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
In 1974, Congress enacted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to guarantee students access to their educational records and to prohibit dissemination of educational records without the student's consent (more information can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog website). Congress recently enacted an amendment to FERPA that enables an educational institution to disclose details of disciplinary action against a student for conduct that posed a significant risk to safety of others in the school community.
The summary that follows is intended to address questions which most frequently arise concerning compliance with FERPA.
For currently enrolled students: "directory information" includes the student's name; addresses; telephone numbers; college; curriculum, and major field of study; class level; date of birth; dates of attendance and full or part-time status; eligibility for membership in registered University honoraries; degrees, honors and certificates received or anticipated; for students appointed as fellows, assistants, graduate, or undergraduate hourly employees, the title, appointing department, appointment dates, duties, and percent time of the appointment; weight and height if the student is an athletic team member; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; and institutions previously attended.
For former students: "directory information" may include the student's name, date of birth, last known addresses and telephone numbers, college, curriculum, major field of study, dates of attendance, full or part-time status, class level, honors, certificates of degree earned at the University and the date(s) conferred, weight and height if the student was an athletic team member, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and institutions previously attended.
An eligible student is a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending the University. Students will be given access upon written request to all records, files, documents and other materials maintained by the University that have information relating to the student. Students may be asked to schedule appointments to review their records.
Students may not have access to:
- Parents' financial records (without written consent from parents)
- Law enforcement records
- Medical, psychiatric records or similar records in connection with the treatment of the student
- Letters/statements of recommendation written prior to 1975. Recommendation letters written after 1975 may not be released if the student waived the right to inspect and review those letters and if the letters are related to admission to an educational institution, application for employment, or receipt of an honor.
Parents may not have access to student records unless:
- The student signs a consent form.
- The parent sends a statement in writing certifying that said student is a dependent as defined by the IRS. A copy of the last income tax form must be attached. If such statement is received, the parent may have same access to the student's record as the student.
Parties who are not related to a student may have access to student records for the following reasons:
- A student has authorized release of information to another party with a written statement specifying which records are to be released and for what reason.
- Authorized representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of the Comptroller General, or state and local education authorities request access as part of an audit or program review or to ensure compliance with Student Financial Aid program requirements. This also applies to research firms working for said departments.
- In response to a court order and/or subpoena after reasonable effort to notify parent or eligible student (unless ordered not to contact the student by the Court).
- University officials and University faculty with a legitimate educational interest.
- To officials of other schools or school systems in which the student intends to enroll, upon condition that the student is notified of the transfer, receives a copy of the record if desired, and has an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the record.
- Teachers and other school officials (including other institutions) with a legitimate educational interest in the behavior of the student, may be given appropriate information concerning disciplinary action taken against such student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety and well-being of the student, other students or other members of the school community.
- In connection with a health or safety emergency.
- A victim of violent crime may be told the results of any disciplinary proceedings arising out of the commission of that crime.
- In response to a student's application for financial aid. Student information to determine the amount of financial aid, the conditions for the aid, the student's eligibility for the aid, or to enforce the terms or conditions of the aid.
- An organization conducting studies concerning the administration of student aid programs on behalf of educational agencies or institutions may be given relevant information.
Documenting Disclosures of Student Information
Every time you give information about a student to anyone:
- You must have a record of the request for access and each disclosure of student information.
- The record must identify the parties who requested the information and their basis for such request.
- The record of disclosures must remain in the file for as long as the educational records are maintained.
Exceptions: Records of requests and disclosures do not have to be maintained for requests by the parent or eligible student; university officials with a legitimate educational interest; or a party seeking directory information.