What is FERPA?
FERPA requires that federally funded institutions, under programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education, comply with certain procedures with regard to disclosing and maintaining educational records. FERPA was not enacted to preclude the disclosure of educational records simply because the records identify a student by name; rather, it was designed to protect the student’s educational information and status as a student. Parents should understand that their rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary school at any age.
Who is a Student?
According to FERPA, a student is an individual who is enrolled in and actually attends an educational institution. The regulations provide that attendance includes, but is not limited to, attendance in person or by correspondence. Individuals who “attend” classes but are not physically located on a campus are also students, thus including those who attend classes by video conference, satellite, Internet, or other electronic information and telecommunications technologies.
FERPA prohibits the disclosure of a student’s “protected information” to a third party. This disclosure is prohibited whether it is made by hand delivery, verbally, fax, mail, or electronic transmission. Disclosure also includes the provision of access to the educational institution’s career center database of student resumes.
What Information is Protected?
FERPA classifies protected information into three categories: educational information, personally identifiable information (PII) and directory information. The limitations imposed by FERPA vary with respect to each category.
Personally identifiable information can only be disclosed if the educational institution obtains the signature of the
student on a document specifically identifying the information to be disclosed, the
reason for the disclosure, and the parties to whom the disclosure will be made. Examples
of PII include: student’s name, date of birth, student ID or SSN, and other information
which can be used to distinguish an individual’s identity in relation to academic
Educational information cannot be disclosed without prior approval of the student. FERPA defines “education records” as “records, files, documents, and other materials” that are “maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a person acting for such agency or institution.” This includes transcripts, GPA, grades, social security number, and academic evaluations, and records that pertain to an individual’s previous attendance as a student of an institution.
Directory information can be disclosed by the institution without consent. Directory information is defined as “information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.” This includes such items as a list of students’ names, addresses, and telephone numbers, and also includes a student ID number (which includes electronic identifiers) provided it cannot be used to gain access to education records. Directory information, however, does not include a student’s social security number nor can the social security number be used to confirm directory information. If a student decides to “opt out” of the disclosure of directory information, the “opt out” continues indefinitely.
What Does the Release Cover?
Rosemont College cannot provide information about a student’s academic records, including performance in a class, grades, or registrations to a third party without written consent by the student. Information will only be provided after the identity of the third party is verified. Student can revoke FERPA consent at any time.