Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.

Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:

  • sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
  • medical treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists;
  • employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual’s employment;
  • records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for only that purpose, are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records;
  • post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student are:

  • birth date
  • religious affiliation
  • citizenship
  • disciplinary status
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • grade point average (GPA)
  • marital status
  • SSN/student I.D.
  • grades/exam scores
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)
  • progress reports

 

The college will not release personally identifiable information from a student’s education record without the student’s prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter’s education records unless the student has provided written authorization permitting the parents’ access. Exceptions are noted in the college’s policy concerning the privacy of student education records and includes: access by “college officials” who the institution has determined to have a “legitimate educational interest;” access by school officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll; access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

At Temple College these terms are defined below:

“College official” is any person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, a person elected to the Board of Trustees, a student serving on an official college committee, or a person employed by or under contract to the college to perform a specific task. A “college official” has a “legitimate educational interest” whenever he or she is performing a task that is specified in his or her position, description, or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student’s education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid or disclosure of information in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena. NOTE: At Temple College all subpoenas are first reviewed by the Office of Student and Enrollment Services to determine an appropriate response.

Students and former students have rights to inspect and review their education records within 45 days from making such a request. The right of inspection and review includes: the right to access, with an explanation and interpretation of the record; the right to a copy of the education record when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record. The institution may refuse to provide a copy of a student’s education record provided such refusal does not limit access.

Limitations exist on students’ rights to inspect and review their education records. For example, the institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review the following:

  • financial information submitted by parents;
  • education records containing information about more than one student however, the institution must permit access to that part of the records which pertains only to the inquiring student;
  • confidential letters and recommendations placed in the student’s file before 01/01/75;
  • confidential letters and statements of recommendation, placed in the records after 01/01/75, to which the student has waived his or her right to review and that are related to the student’s admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors. Upon a request from a student, he/she will be notified of the names of persons making the recommendations and that such recommendations cannot be used other than for the purposes for which they were intended.

Students may request that their education records be amended if they believe such information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. Students must request in writing that the office that maintains those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the records they want corrected and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights.

That office will review the request and inform the students in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If the records custodian refuses to amend the record, students have the right to a hearing. A hearing officer appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs will conduct the hearing. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for the hearing has been received. The hearing officer will notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

Students will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. One or more other persons, including an attorney, may accompany the student. The hearing officer/board will make its decision in writing based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.

If the hearing officer/board supports the complaint, the education record will be amended accordingly and the student will be so informed. If the hearing officer/board decides not to amend the education record, students have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreement with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion of the record is maintained, and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, the student’s statement will be included.

TYPE
LOCATION
CUSTODIAN
Academic Records Admissions and Records
One College Center
Director of Admissions & Records
Financial Aid Records Financial Aid Office
One College Center
Director of Financial Aid

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent.

Temple College has designated the following information as directory information and will release this information, unless the student has submitted a request for non-disclosure:

  • address (local and permanent)
  • telephone number (local and permanent)
  • college issued email address
  • student photo
  • Temple College attendance dates
  • Temple College degrees earned (with dates)
  • academic honors (e.g., President’s Honor List, Vice President’s Honor List, etc.)
  • major, minor and degree objective
  • expected date of graduation
  • previous schools attended
  • enrollment status (class level)
  • currently enrolled (Y/N)
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports

According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled.

At Temple College, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Request To Restrict Directory Information form, available online. Students have the choice of restricting online student directory information, or they can restrict the release of all of their directory information. The completed form must be submitted in person to the Office of Admissions and Records at One College Center and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. Students will be required to renew the request at the beginning of each academic year.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that their names will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other college publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of the student’s directory information and will be informed that we have no information available about the student’s attendance at Temple College. Students who wish to have specific directory information released may do so by providing a written authorization to the Office of Admissions and Records.

Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, Temple College annually notifies students of the rights accorded them by FERPA.

Temple College students are notified of their FERPA rights in the Temple College Student Handbook.

General questions may be directed to the Office of Student and Enrollment Services or the Office of Admissions and Records, as appropriate. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Temple College Office of Admissions and Records, One College Center, 254-298-8306.

If a parent or eligible student feels that the institution has not fully honored his/her privacy rights under FERPA, a written complaint may be filed with the Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. The Family Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.

FERPA For Students

Students have three primary rights under FERPA. They have the rights to: inspect and review their education records; have some control over the disclosure of information from their education record, and seek to amend their education records, under certain circumstances.

A student’s FERPA rights begin when the student registers and attends his/her first class.

NOTE: Students who originally sought admission to one program of study at the college and are denied, but subsequently are admitted and enrolled in a different program of study have FERPA rights only in their admitted/enrolled program of study.

Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium.

According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request. At Temple College, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Request To Restrict Directory Information form, available online. Students have the choice of restricting online student directory information or they can restrict the release of all of their directory information. The completed form must be submitted in person to the Office of Admissions and Records and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. Students will be required to renew the request at the beginning of each academic year.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that THIS ACTION COULD HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES. The names of students who have restricted their directory information will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other college publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of your directory information and will be told: “I’m sorry, but we have no information available about this person’s attendance at Temple College.”

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter’s education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At Temple College, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

Factors considered in making this assessment are:

  1. the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved;
  2. the need for the information;
  3. the time required to deal with the emergency; and
  4. the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

General questions may be directed to the Office of Student and Enrollment Services or the Office of Admissions and Records, as appropriate. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Temple College Office of Admissions and Records, One College Center, (254) 298-8306.

FERPA Forms

Forms may be mailed or faxed to:

Temple College
Office of Admissions & Records:
Attn: FERPA Release
2600 South First Street
Temple, TX 76504
Fax: 254-298-8329

FERPA for Parents

Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student’s education record. This information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent or parents.

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter’s education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At Temple College, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

Factors considered in making this assessment are:

  1. the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved;
  2. the need for the information;
  3. the time required to deal with the emergency; and
  4. the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

General questions may be directed to the Office of Student and Enrollment Services or the Office of Admissions and Records, as appropriate. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Temple College Office of Admissions and Records, One College Center, (254) 298-8306.

FERPA for Faculty

The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, institutional student identification number or social security number, without the student’s written permission, is a violation of FERPA. Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered personally identifiable information and therefore violate FERPA. Instructors can assign students unique numbers or codes that can be used to post grades. However, the order of the posting must not be alphabetic.

Leaving personally identifiable, graded papers unattended for students to view is no different from posting grades in the hallway. If these papers contain “personally identifiable” information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA if the instructor has not obtained the written permission of each student to do so. A possible solution would be either to leave the graded papers exams, quizzes, and homework with an assistant or secretary who would ask students for proper identification prior to distributing them or to leave them in a sealed envelope with only the student’s name on it.

Instructors can notify students of their final grades via the U.S. Mail if the information is enclosed in an envelope. Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student’s privacy. Notification of grades via TConnect is permissible. However, there is no guarantee of confidentiality.

Faculty members are normally considered “college officials.” But, the faculty member will have to demonstrate “a legitimate educational interest” in their request to access student records, e.g. advising students, retention study, etc. However, faculty do not have access to student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access.

Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student’s education record. This information is protected under FERPA and the parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parents or parent.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

Factors considered in making this assessment are:

  1. the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved;
  2. the need for the information;
  3. the time required to deal with the emergency; and
  4. the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the “education record” grades, GPA and other non-directory information.

General questions may be directed to the Office of Student and Enrollment Services or the Office of Admissions and Records, as appropriate. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Temple College Office of Admissions and Records, One College Center, 254-298-8306.

FERPA for Staff

An institution may disclose personally identifiable information without the student’s written consent to “college officials” whom the institution has determined to have a “legitimate educational interest.”

An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only says that an institution MAY release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information.

The privacy rights of an individual expire with that individual’s death. Records held by an institution for a deceased person is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. Temple College will exercise its own discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, information should be disclosed to survivors or third parties.

FERPA does not preclude an institution from identifying students as “college officials” with a “legitimate educational interest” for specific purposes. The same requirements and responsibilities for a full time college official exist for student workers. The student workers must be trained on FERPA just as if they were faculty or staff.

Many fraternities, sororities and college organizations maintain scholarship committees, academic excellence awards and related types of activities that are based upon personally identifiable information. However, fraternity, sorority and college organization members in charge of these activities are not “college officials” and may not have access to student record information, unless the student has provided written authorization.

Students have the right to inspect the contents of their student folder, regardless of their financial status with the institution. However, an institution is NOT REQUIRED to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.

At Temple College, all subpoenas are first reviewed by the Office of Student and Enrollment Services to determine the appropriate course of action.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” Factors to be considered or questions to be asked in making a decision to release such information in these situations are:

  1. the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved;
  2. the need for the information;
  3. the time required to deal with the emergency;
  4. the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

General questions may be directed to the Office of Student and Enrollment Services or the Office of Admissions and Records, as appropriate. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Temple College Office of Admissions and Records, One College Center, 254-298-8306.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How will I know if a student has requested that "Directory Information" not be disclosed?

A. The student’s request to restrict “directory information” is reflected in Datatel or Collegue. Once the student’s record has been flagged in Datatel or Collegue, displays of the student’s record will appear with the message: “Student has requested that no information be released.”

Q. Where can I get a copy of the law?

A. A full text of the law is available at: http://www2.ed.gov

Q. Why can't I get my son/daughter's grades/schedule? I'm paying the bills!

A. FERPA does not permit Temple College to release non-directory information without the signed consent of your child.

Q. Why can't I get my son/daughter's grades/schedule? I'm paying the bills!

A. FERPA does not permit Temple College to release non-directory information without the signed consent of your child.

Q. How can I pay my son/daughter's account if you can't even tell me how much they owe?

A. Your child will either have to either verbally inform you about their financial account or they will have to provide a written consent authorizing you to receive and inspect their financial statements.

Q. Can I have my directory information released to just my parents?

A. No, a student does not have the right to request non-disclosure to a particular person or group of persons.