Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (otherwise known as FERPA), sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records.

FERPA governs the release of records maintained by educational institutions and access to those records. This notice, published in the College Catalog, serves as the yearly student notification of their rights under FERPA.

Questions regarding FERPA or any College policies related to it may be directed to the Registrar's Office.

Definition of Education Record

The meaning of "education records" is, with certain exemptions as listed below, those records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information directly related to a student, and are maintained by any employee or agent of the College. The following categories of information are exempted and are not considered to be "education records":

  • Records made by College personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other person
  • Records maintained by Campus Safety for law enforcement purposes
  • Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment. (Medical records may be personally reviewed by a physician of the student's choice.)
  • Records only related to a former student (alumni records)
  • Records of that individual while a student continue to be considered education records.

Note: All records pertaining to students which are maintained by College offices are official College records, and as such, remain the property of the College.

Right to Inspect and Review

Students are granted the right to inspect and review all of their education records, except the following:

  • Financial records of parents
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendations placed in education records\prior to January 1, 1975
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendations for admission, employment, or honorary recognition placed in education records after January 1, 1975, for which students have waived their right of access

Waiver of Rights of Access

Students may waive their right of access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation.

Even if the student signs a waiver, upon request, the names of all persons making confidential recommendations will be made available. Employees or agents of the College may not require a student to waive his or her right of access for receipt of College benefits or services.

Procedures for Inspection and Review

  • Requests to review records must be made to the Registrar's Office. By law, the Registrar’s Office has 45 days to respond to requests to review and inspect. However, arrangements will be made as expeditiously as possible.
  • Information contained in education records will be fully explained and interpreted to students by College personnel assigned to, and designated by, the Registrar.
  • Students have the right to review only their own records. When a record contains information about more than one student, disclosure cannot include information regarding the other student(s).

Right to Challenge Information in Records

Students have the right to challenge the content of their education records if they consider the information contained therein to be inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate.

This process includes an opportunity for amendment of the records or insertion of written explanations by the student into such records.

Note: The right to challenge grades does not apply under the Act unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded, under which condition the record will be corrected.

Procedures for Hearings to Challenge Records

Students challenging information in their records must submit, in writing, a request for a hearing to the Registrar's Office, listing the specific information in question and the reasons for the challenge.

Hearings will be conducted by the Registrar. Students shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the reasons for the challenge, as referenced in ‘Right to Challenge Information in Records’.

  • The Registrar will render a decision, in writing, noting the reason and summarizing all evidence presented within 10 days after the challenge is filed
  • Should the hearing be in favor of the student, the record shall be amended accordingly
  • Should the request be denied, an appeal may be made, in writing, and submitted according to the Grievance Procedure in the Community Guide
  • Should the appeal be in favor of the student, the record shall be amended accordingly
  • Should the request be denied, the student may choose to place a statement with the record commenting on the accuracy of the information in the record and/or setting forth any basis for inaccuracy
  • When disclosed to an authorized party, the record will always include the student's statement and notice of the Board's decision, as long as the student's record is maintained by the College

Consent for Release Required

Consent must be obtained from a student for the release of information from education records, specifying what is to be released, the reasons for release, and to whom, with a copy of the record sent to the student if he or she desires.

Release Without Consent

The requirement for consent does not apply to the following:

  • Requests from faculty and staff of Paul Smith's College who have a legitimate educational interest on a "need to know" basis, including student employees or agents of the institution, if necessary to conduct official business, as authorized by the College Registrar. Legitimate educational interest includes performing a task related to the regular duties of the employee or agent, the student's education, the discipline of a student, a service or benefit for the student, or maintaining safety and security of the campus
  • Requests in compliance with a lawful subpoena or judicial order
  • Requests in connection with a student's application for or receipt of financial aid
  • Requests by state authorities and agencies specifically exempted from the prior consent requirements by the Act—organizations conducting studies on behalf of the College, if such studies do not permit the personal identification of students to any persons other than to representatives of such organizations and if the personal identification data is destroyed when no longer needed
  • Information submitted to accrediting organizations
  • The College may release information in response to requests by parents of a dependent student, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. A copy of the most recent year’s federal income tax form is required to verify dependency
  • In the case of emergencies, the College may release information from education records to appropriate persons in connection with an emergency, if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons
  • To authorized federal officials who have need to audit and evaluate federally-supported programs
  • The results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the College against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence to the alleged victim of that crime
  • Requests for "directory information" (see Directory Information)

Note: The College reserves the right to verify the accuracy of any information contained in what purports to be an official College document (e.g., a transcript or diploma) or information provided to a third party. In addition, degrees (any honors, majors, minors and specializations) are considered public information since they are conferred in a public ceremony.

Directory Information

Paul Smith's College, in accordance with the Act, has designated the following information about students as public (directory) information:

  • Name
  • Address (local, home and e-mail)
  • Birth date
  • Photograph
  • Telephone (local, home, mobile)
  • Program of study (including school/program of enrollment, major and campus)
  • Class level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior)
  • Enrollment status (e.g., full-time, part-time, withdrawn)
  • Dates of attendance
  • Honors awarded
  • Previous educational agencies or institutions attended
  • Participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of intercollegiate athletic teams
  • Names and majors of potential graduates (graduands) and students participating in graduation

Students have the right to have this directory information withheld from the public if they so desire. Each student who wants all directory information to be withheld must notify the Registrar's Office in writing by filling out the Stop Release Form. At least 10 days should be allowed for processing of these requests.

The College receives many inquiries for "directory information" from a variety of sources, including friends, parents, relatives, prospective employers, other institutions of higher education, honor societies, licensing agencies, government agencies, and the news media. Each student is advised to carefully consider the consequences of a decision to withhold "directory information." The College, in all good faith, will not release directory information requested to be withheld, and any requests from persons or organizations outside the College will be refused unless the student provides written consent for the release.

Complaints, Concerns or Suggestions

Any concerns about applications of FERPA policy should be directed to the Registrar in writing.

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