Registrar - FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of education records and provide guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student information records. Students may complete a FERPA release form to authorize Salve Regina to release academic or financial information to designated persons. Academic information includes grades and academic status, while financial information includes invoices and financial aid awards.
FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records, which are defined as records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review your education records (with certain limited exceptions) within 45 days of the day the University receives your request for access. You should submit any such request to the Office of the Registrar in writing, identifying the records you wish to inspect. The Office of the Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify you of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of your education records if you believe them to be inaccurate. You should submit any such request to the Office of the Registrar in writing, clearly identifying the records that you want to have amended and specifying the reasons you believe them to be inaccurate. The Office of the Registrar will notify you of its decision and, if the decision is negative, of your right to a hearing regarding your request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to you at that time.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Salve Regina 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 20202-4605.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One such exception permits Salve Regina to disclose personally identifiable information in education records to "school officials" with "legitimate educational interests." A "school official" is any person employed by Salve Regina in any administrative, supervisor, academic, research or support staff position; any person or company with whom Salve Regina has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent); any person serving on Salve Regina's Board of Trustees; or any student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks. A school official has a "legitimate educational interest" if the official needs to review an educational record to fulfill the official's professional responsibility.
- Another exception permits Salve Regina to disclose your "directory information" to anyone within the Salve Regina community and to the public. Salve Regina has designated the following as directory information: name, address, email address, telephone listing, photograph, date and place of birth, grade level, enrollment status, dates of attendance, major field of study, degrees, honors and awards received, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, height and weight of members of athletic teams, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended. All other student information will not be released to students, parents or outside agencies unless accompanied by a written release of information, signed by the student, which complies with the requirements of FERPA, unless the disclosure of information is authorized by FERPA.
Students may request that directory information not be released to any person without their prior written consent by completing a request to prevent disclosure of directory information form, available in the Office of the Registrar.
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.
What is FERPA?
A federal law enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office, FERPA is designed to protect the privacy of education records and provide guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student information records.
Why is it important?
College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records. School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their records without written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the act.
What is an education record?
Any record, with certain exceptions, maintained by an institution that is directly related to a student. This record can contain a student’s name or information from which an individual student can be personally (individually) identified. These records include files, documents, and materials in whatever medium (handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche) which contain information directly related to students and from which students can be personally (individually) identified.
What characteristics make a student personally identified?
- The name of the student, the student's parent or other family members
- The student's campus or home address
- A personal identifier (such as a social security number or student number)
- A list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student's identity known with "reasonable certainty."
What is not part of an education record?
- "Sole possession" notes (made by one person as an individual observation or recollection, are kept in the possession of the maker, and are only shared with a temporary substitute)
- Law enforcement unit records
- Medical and treatment records
- Alumni records
- Records maintained exclusively for individuals in their capacity as employees. However, records of individuals who are employed as a result of their status as students (work-study) are education records.
What do we do about all of this?
Salve Regina must provide annual notification to students of their FERPA rights to:
- Inspect and review their education records.
- Request an amendment to their education records.
- A hearing if the request for an amendment is unsatisfactory.
- Request that the institution not disclose directory information items about them.
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
- Know that school officials within the institution may obtain information from education records without obtaining prior written consent, know the criteria for determining who will be considered school officials, and know what legitimate educational interest will entitle school officials to have access to education records.
- Know which information Salve Regina has designated as public or directory information.
What falls under directory information?
Data items that are generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if publicly available. This information cannot be released if a student has a "no release" on their record. These include:
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Dates of enrollment
- Academic major
- Full- or part-time status
- Year of study
- Resident status
- Date of graduation or withdrawal
- Degrees, certificates or awards earned
- Participation in officially recognized sports or activities
- Most recent educational institution attended by the student
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
Although not required to be included in the institution's annual notification, Salve Regina must notify students of what information the institution has designated as directory information. Note: If a data element isn't defined as directory information, it can only be released if the student's written permission is obtained or the release meets the requirements under one of the exceptions to student's written permission found in FERPA.
What never falls under directory information?
- Social security number (or part of an SSN)
- Country of citizenship
Every student must be given the opportunity to have directory information suppressed from public release. This process is often referred to as a "no release," "opt out" or "suppression." When a student makes this request, everyone within the institution must abide by a student's request that no information be released about the student. It is also important to understand that a "no release" does not mean that a school official within the institution who has a demonstrated legitimate educational interest is precluded from using the information to perform that official's job duties.
Who falls under school official?
- Employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement and health staff personnel).
- Elected to the Board of Trustees.
- A company employed by or under contract to the college to perform a specific task, such as an agent, an attorney, an auditor or an outsourced service provider.
- Serving as a student representative on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
What about the student’s parents?
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student. Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution. Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determined that their child is legally their dependent. Parents may also obtain non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their child.