Responsibilities Regarding Student Information

Responsibilities Regarding Student Information 

FERPA and Student Information 

Each person is responsible for knowing the special considerations relative to student information and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It is important that each employee understand the reasons for the existence of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the consequences of non-compliance, and the procedure involved in order to respond to inquiries about students’ records. FERPA is a federal law that guarantees students: 

  • the basic right to have access to all their education records 
  • the assurance that their records are protected from access
  • the right to challenge their records believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy. 

Any institution that has programs that are federally funded, through services such as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, must comply with this law or be subject to loss of those funds. In addition, an employee who does not comply with this law may be subject to disciplinary actions or sanctions, up to and including termination, and/or accountability in a court of law.

The following guidelines will provide some assistance in complying with FERPA

  1. Students must be allowed access to all types of education records directly related to that student.
  2. Procedures for access to the student’s own records are electronic authorization or presentation by the student of an ID (telephone requests should not be honored) or receipt of a signed and dated request from the student. 
  3. Students must not be allowed access to: 
    • education records (such as print-outs of class lists) that contain information on more than one student (the student may review only the specific information about himself or herself)
    • financial records of the student’s parents
    • confidential letters of recommendation, for which the student has signed a waiver of his/her right to review.  

Third-parties may have access to confidential records only under specifically enumerated circumstances and all third-party requests should be referred to the Registrar’s Office. Circumstances which may allow for the sharing of confidential records include the following:  

  • to college employees who are in the process of carrying out their specifically assigned educational or administrative responsibilities; whether the need to know is a legitimate educational interest must be determined by the employee’s office/department administrator or manager
  • to parents of a dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, if certain conditions are met by the parents. (Parents should never be given access to their dependent student’s educational records without first determining the legality of an employee doing so)
  • to representatives of the Department of Defense, limited to directory-type information 
  • in connection with financial aid 
  • to federal or state educational authorities 
  • to accrediting organizations 
  • in compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena 
  • in connection with a health or safety emergency
  • in connection with a transfer
  • in connection with a lawsuit brought by the student against the college
  • to the parents of an under-21 student found to have violated drug/alcohol rules,
  • in connection with the final results of a disciplinary proceeding involving certain offenses (i.e., crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense)
  • to organizations conducting certain studies
  • in connection with disclosures about sex offenders (info provided to the institution pursuant to the Wetterling Act),
  • to other parties with the student’s consent

Note: Under many of the above circumstances, the third party must be advised that further disclosure is prohibited without the prior consent of the student.  

Access to Student Directory Information

A Central College employee may release “directory information” without written permission of the student; however, students have the right to restrict access to directory information. For students who have made such a request with the Registrar’s Office, the specific restrictions that are requested may be identified on that student’s record in Ellucian. If an employee encounters one of these records, he or she will receive a message on the screen notifying which data has been restricted. If a student has requested that access to directory information be restricted, the employee should refer all requests for information about that student to the Registrar’s Office.   

Directory information is defined as: student name; college residential address and/or phone number; college e-mail address; student home/permanent address and/or phone number; photograph; date/place of birth; parent(s) name(s); parent(s) home address; declared academic major; academic class; enrollment/registration status (i.e., full-time/part-time); dates of official enrollment/registration; participation in officially-recognized college activities (i.e., intercollegiate athletics); weight/height of members of athletic teams; degree received; honors/awards received; and educational institution most recently attended prior to Central. Social security numbers are NOT designated as directory information. Moreover, other state and/or federal laws may restrict the disclosure of social security numbers.