The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

 

Definition

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
  • Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth her view about the contested information.
  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
    • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
    • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
    • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
    • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
    • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
    • Accrediting organizations;
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
    • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
    • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Directory Information

FERPA Exemptions to Privacy: Directory Information

Provisions of FERPA allow the institution to define directory information, that is, information which is public. Bennett College determined that the following student information is directory information:

  • Name
  • Address (local and permanent)
  • College email address
  • Telephone number (local and permanent)
  • Major
  • Dates of attendance
  • Admission or enrollment status
  • Currently enrolled (Y/N)
  • Campus, school, College, or division
  • Class standing
  • Degrees and awards
  • Activities
  • Sports/athletic information and
  • Previous educational institutions attended.

Request Non-Disclosure

Students May Request Nondisclosure of Directory Information

Enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information under FERPA. This is called “directory exemption”. Upon designating this status on their academic records, no information can be released to the general public, including phone requests from financial lenders, employers or insurance companies for verification of terms of enrollment, verification of their presence on campus, nor any address or telephone information. Directory exemption will prevent the release of directory information.

NOTE: Under the Solomon Amendment of 1997, military recruiters are guaranteed access to directory information for all students except those with privacy designated on their records.

EXCEPTIONS to Student Consent for Release of Educational Records

FERPA allows the institution the right to disclose student records or identifiable information without the student's consent under the following circumstances:

  • To authorized representatives for audit of Federal or State supported programs.
  • To College employees who are in the process of carrying out their specifically assigned educational or administrative responsibilities acting in the student's educational interest.
  • Veteran's Administration officials
  • Officials of other institutions in which a student seeks or intends to enroll on the condition that the issuing institution makes a reasonable attempt to inform the student of the disclosure unless the student initiates the transfer.
  • Persons or organizations providing financial aid to students.
  • Organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to develop, validate, and administer predictive tests, to administer student aid programs or to improve instruction, provided that individual identity of students is not made.
  • Accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions.
  • Parents of a student who have established that student's status as a dependent according to Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152.
  • Persons in compliance with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, provided that the institution makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student in advance of compliance. NOTE: The institution is not required to notify the student if a federal grand jury subpoena, or any other subpoena issued for a law enforcement purpose, orders the institution not to disclose the existence or contents of the subpoena.
  • Persons in an emergency, if the knowledge of information, in fact, is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.
  • An alleged victim of any crime of violence of the results of any institutional disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator. The information may only be given in respect to the crime committed.
  • Schools may disclose personally identifiable information from education records to an outside contractor or volunteer without prior written student consent if the outside contractor or volunteer is a "party acting for" the institution and is performing a service which the institution would otherwise have to perform for itself (as in the case of the National Student Loan Clearinghouse for loan verification or Credentials, Inc.).

How to Request Non-Disclosure of Directory Information

For non-disclosure option, please reference the Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality form (under Academic Forms). Keep in mind; you are requesting that Bennett College not disclose your directory information to any third party, including solicitations for information from third parties, such as vendors who supply graduation related materials. If you choose to elect the “confidentiality” option for your educational records, information for you will be withheld from a variety of sources, including: you - the student. This also includes friends, relatives, prospective employers, and the news media. Each student is advised to carefully consider the consequences of a decision to elect “confidentiality”. Once elected the College cannot acknowledge the existence of, or release information about, the record of any student who has elected confidentiality. (You can change this election at any time.) No information or services will be available to you via telephone if you have elected the confidentiality option. Your only options for conducting business transactions with the College would be in person, after presenting a valid photo ID, or through secure login on BelleNet systems.

Inspect and Review

Request to Review Education Record

Any student may inspect and review her educational record upon completion of the appropriate form in the Office of the Registrar. The request will be honored as soon as possible; under the law this must be done within 45 days of receipt of the request. The Office of the Registrar will notify the student regarding when and where the record will be available for inspection.

Any student has the right to review and inspect all of the documents in her folder except for the following:

  1. Confidential evaluations and letters of recommendation filed before January 1, 1975.
  2. Evaluations and recommendations after that date if the student has waived her right to see them.
  3. Financial records and statements of her parents.
  4. Those documents classified by law as non-educational.

If, after inspecting and reviewing her records, the student has any questions about them, he/she may request an oral or written explanation and interpretation of them.

The student may also secure a copy of every document in her folder open to inspection. These copies will be made by the College under the same terms and conditions for a student copy of a transcript. Copies will not be supplied if the student has an overdue debt to the College or has outstanding overdue books or fines with the Library. If an original or source document exists elsewhere (e.g., records of other schools, test scores), copies will not be issued to the student.

Control Access

When a student begins attend¬ing a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student. Hence, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their daughter's education records, unless the student is a dependent as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or parents have obtained consent from their child to release some or all of their education record information.

Students can authorize the release of non-directory information to a specified third party by filling out and submitting the FERPA Release Form.

For additional information, you may call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (voice). Individuals who use TDD may call 1-800-437-0833.

Or you may contact the U.S. Department of Education at the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520