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FERPA: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act

Most institutions of higher education function much differently than a high school guidance office.  Communication about "educational records" is limited once a student is 18 years of age by FERPA: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.  If a student chooses, s/he may sign a waiver that allows administrators and faculty members of the institution to freely discuss "educational records" with the parents.  As a caution based in the philosophy that part of the college experience is to assist young adults with their transition to becoming independent, self-sufficient human beings, consider the implications of you, the parent, dealing directly with campus personnel  without, necessarily discussing the issues directly with your student and allowing him/her to address the concerns for him/herself.  Admittedly, some students are reluctant to discuss difficult issues such as failing or near failing grades, non-attendance of class resulting in a lowered grade, or social offenses involving poor judgment, to name a few.  Allowing students to make choices and then deal with the consequences-fortunate or not-is an excellent (and difficult) way to assure their independence for life.

Pursuant to this law "education records" are the records, files, documents, and other materials maintained by the College, which contain information directly related to a student except:

  1. Records of faculty and administration, which are in their sole possession and are not revealed to any persons other than a representative.
  2. Records of campus security that were created for law enforcement purposes.
  3. Employment records maintained solely for such purpose.
  4. Medical records.

At its discretion, an institution may provide "directory information" to others and the college's confidentiality policy shall not be applicable to such information. "Directory information" includes: student name, address, telephone number, email address, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status (includes advance registration data, anticipated graduation year, class status), resident status (commuter or resident), degrees and awards received, recent educational institution attended by student, participation in recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams. An institution will withhold directory information if a student makes a written request to the Office of the Registrar. Students have the right to inspect and review information contained in their educational records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their record if they feel the decision following the hearing is unacceptable.  These requests typically must be made annually.

If a student believes that the education records contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate, he or she should discuss the problem with the Registrar in an effort to resolve the matter informally. If not resolved, the student will follow procedures as outlined by his or her institution, which usually involves a formal hearing  process