Confidentiality of Student Records
In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (known as FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) the following constitutes Ursinus College’s policy which informs students of the procedures available to provide appropriate access to personal records while protecting their confidentiality. The complete Act is available for inspection in the Office of the Registrar.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receiving a request for access. A student should submit to the Office of the Registrar a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar’s Office, the student will be advised of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the College to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.
The Dean of the College (or a designee) is the Hearing officer appointed to resolve any disagreements which cannot be settled directly. The Dean (or designee) is available for informal meetings on such matters at any time. If the matter is not resolved through informal means, the matter will be referred to the Committee on Academic Standards whose decision is final. If the student does not agree with the decision, he or she may submit a letter to be included in his or her educational record expressing the student’s explanations or interpretation of the official record.
Note: It is not the intention of the Act to provide a forum for challenging course grades, decisions by the committee on Academic Standards, the Judiciary Board or any other committee or Officer of the College assigned the responsibility to make judgments. Rather it is the intention of the Act and the College’s procedures to make known to students the informational base upon which decisions included in the educational record are made and to allow corrections of that information or the inclusions of explanatory statements by the student.
- The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. The College discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the College. A school official is deemed to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for that official to (a) perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description or by contact agreement; (b) perform a task related to a student’s education; (c) perform a task related to the discipline of a student; or (d) provides a service of benefit relating to the student or student’s family. Disclosure to a school official having a legitimate educational interest does not constitute authorization to share that information with a third party without written consent.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
FERPA Waiver Request
Institutions are not required to disclose information from the student’s education records to a parent of a dependent student. Students who wish to authorize release of their academic information to parents, guardians, spouses or any other individual may do so by signing a FERPA Waiver Request and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar.
By signing a FERPA Waiver Request, the student is waiving his/her rights under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and is asking that grades, grade point averages, course schedules, or academic standing be released to the named person(s) indicated on the Waiver.
FERPA provides an exception regarding the release of education records information without the consent of the student when the release is related to financial aid. The disclosure is permitted if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid; determine the amount of aid; determine the conditions for the aid; and/or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
Release of Information Under Special Circumstances
Records may be released to third parties without a signed FERPA Waiver Request under certain exceptions. These include: Federal officers as prescribed by law; agencies as required by state law; to research projects on behalf of educational agencies for test norms, improving instruction, etc. (provided that the agencies guarantee no personal identification of students); to accrediting agencies carrying out their functions; judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas (provided that the student is notified prior to compliance or provided that a reasonable attempt to notify the student has been made); an emergency if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons; state laws requiring disclosure before January 1, 1976.
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which educational records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including Social Security Numbers, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to records and PII without consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to educational records without consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when the College objects or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive the PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without consent PII from educational records, and they may track participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
Record of Access and Maintenance of Files
A notification of releases made to third parties (i.e. anyone not a member of Faculty or staff with legitimate access to the student’s record) must be kept in the student’s record.
Notification of Student’s Right to Non-Disclosure of Directory Information
FERPA requires Institutions to give public notice to students in attendance of the categories of personally identifiable information which the institution has designated as Directory Information. Institutions may disclose Directory Information about former students without meeting the notification requirement; however, if a student has requested, at his or her last opportunity as a student, that Directory Information not be disclosed, the institution must continue to honor that request until informed to the contrary by the former student. If requested to withhold directory information by a student after he or she has left the institution, Institutions may, but are not required to, comply with the request.
Types of Information Which May be Designated as Directory Information
The following information is designated as public or “Directory Information.” Such information may be disclosed without a student’s previous consent by the College for any purpose, at its discretion: full name, address, phone, email; major field of study; dates of attendance; admissions or enrollment status; class year; degrees and awards; most recent previous institution attended; and student activities including athletics.
Students who object to the release of any or all “Directory Information” must express their objection in writing within the first week of the semester. The Office of the Registrar administers the procedure annually and monitors the information.
“Student” is defined as one who has attended or is attending Ursinus College and whose records are in the files of the College.
“Educational Records” are those records, files and documents relating to students and maintained by the College or an agent of the College. All such records and a log of the request for these records are maintained by College administrative personnel in the course of performance of assigned duties. Only college officials who have a legitimate educational interest shall have right of access to a student’s “educational record.”
“Educational Records” include:
- Admissions applications and transcripts maintained by the Office of the Registrar;
- Ursinus College academic record maintained by the Office of the Registrar;
- Student file maintained by the Dean of Students regarding judicial and disciplinary decisions;
- Student file maintained by financial aid offices;
- Record maintained by Career and Professional Development Office;
- Student records maintained by the Health Professions Advising Committee;
- Student records maintained by the Pre-law Advising Committee;
- Student records maintained by the Business Office;
- Student records maintained by the library.
The term “Educational Records” does not include:
- personal files of Faculty and administrators which are not accessible to any other person;
- record of parents financial status;
- medical, psychiatric of psychological records created and used for the treatment of a student and available only to those providing the treatment. These records can be reviewed by a physician or appropriate professional of the student-patient’s choice.
- employment records which relate exclusively to students as employees and are not used for other purposes;
- confidential statements and letters placed in the files prior to January 1, 1975;
- confidential letters and statements to which students have waived a right of access;
- records and documents maintained by Campus Safety;
- information or data collected by the Alumni and Advancement Offices about graduates.
“Record” means any information or data recorded in any medium including but not limited to handwriting, print, tapes, file, microfilm, microfiche, and computer file.
Source: Office of the Registrar at Chestnut Hill College (August, 2015)