Ferpa: The Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act

Albion College Policy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (the Act) is a Federal law which states the following:

  1. that a written institutional policy must be established and
  2. that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available.

The Act provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student educational records and access to them by students.

FERPA Definition of Records

The Act defines education records as records, files, documents, and other recorded materials which contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by Albion College or a person acting for the College. The term education record does not include records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary thereto that are in the sole possession of the maker thereof and which are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a substitute; records on a student who is 18 years of age or older that are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in a professional or paraprofessional capacity, or assisting in that capacity and in connection with the provision of treatment to the student, and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment, provided, however, that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice; records of students as employees unless the employment results from the employee’s status as a student; and alumni records.

Access to Records

F.E.R.P.A. accords all the rights under the act to all students at the college. No one outside the institution shall have access to nor will the institution disclose any information from students’ educational records without the written consent of students except to personnel within the institution with legitimate educational interest, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accrediting function, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. Albion College will also release information to be in compliance with a judicial order; this release will occur only after an attempt has been made to contact the student at the last known permanent address.

Under certain circumstances information will be released to parent(s)/guardian(s). Parents of freshmen and parents of students on academic probation are advised of mid-semester and semester final grade reports. A student may request that grades not be released to the parent(s)/guardian(s) by submitting written notification to the Registrar’s Office. A representative of the College may communicate with parent(s)/guardian(s) relative to the following circumstances: discontinuance of enrollment, medical (including psychiatric) examinations required for the maintenance of enrollment as determined by the Dean of Students, alleged violation of a College regulation that will likely result in suspension or expulsion from the College if the student is found responsible; absence from the campus when there is reason to be concerned for the student’s well-being because the student’s whereabouts are unknown; academic or disciplinary probation; needed medical attention, the nature of which might jeopardize a student’s ability to maintain the status of enrolled. Parent(s)/guardian(s) in these cases will be defined as the individual the student has recorded as the parent(s)/guardian(s) on the admissions application. A student may change this designation at any time at the Registrar’s Office.

Within the Albion College community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in a student’s educational interest are allowed access to the student education records. Legitimate educational interest means (1) the information or records requested is relevant and necessary to accomplishment of some task or determination; and (2) the task or determination is an employment responsibility for the inquirer or is a properly assigned subject matter for the inquirer’s employment responsibility. These members include Faculty, personnel in the Registrar’s Office, Student Affairs Division, Chief Academic Officer’s Office, President’s Office, Enrollment Office, Personnel Office, Financial Aid Office, Accounting Office, Counseling Center, Career and Internship Center, Public Relations Office, Institutional Advancement, Campus Safety Office, program committees, scholarship committees and academic personnel. A listing of the types, locations and custodians of education records is attached.

The rights of this policy are extended to all students enrolling in Albion College after January 1, 1975.

Directory Information

At its discretion the College may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: Name, Local Address, Permanent Address, Name of Parent(s)/Guardian(s), Local Phone Number, Dates of Attendance, Degrees Earned, Dates of Degrees, Awards/Honors/Scholarships, Major, Sports and Activities, Height and Weight of Members of Athletic Teams, Adviser, Concentrations, Computer User Name. It should be known that it is the College’s choice to release this information, and careful consideration is given to all requests to insure that the information is not released indiscriminately. A student may withhold Directory Information by notifying the Registrar’s Office in writing within two weeks after the first day of class for the fall term.

Requests for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold Directory Information must be filed annually in the Registrar’s Office.

A record of all disclosures will be maintained in the student record, except when the request is made by

  1. the eligible student
  2. a school official who has been determined to have a legitimate educational interest
  3. a party with written consent from the eligible student, or
  4. a party seeking directory information

The record of each disclosure will contain the name of the parties who have requested or received information and the legitimate interest the parties had in requesting or obtaining the information.

Review Process

The Act provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their educational records, to challenge the contents of their educational records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panel to be unacceptable. The Registrar’s Office and the Dean of Students’ Office have been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student educational records, which include admissions, personnel, academic and financial files, and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar or the Dean of Students listing the item or items of interest. Records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request. All documents will be reviewed in the presence of a designated official. Any document a student may see he/she may have copies of, unless a financial hold exists, the document involves another person, or the student has waived his/her right to access. These copies would be made at the student’s expense at 10 cents a page.

Restricted Information

As outlined by the Act, a student may not inspect and review the following: financial information submitted by parent(s)/guardian(s); letters of recommendation to which the student has waived the rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit a student to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in the files prior to January 1, 1975, provided the letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.

Challenge Procedures

A student who believes that the education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading or otherwise in violation of his/her privacy or other rights may discuss the problem informally with the Registrar or Dean of Students. If the decisions are in agreement with the student’s requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and the student will be informed by the Registrar or Dean of Students of the right to a formal hearing. A request for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Chief Academic Officer, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such request, will inform the student of the date, place, and time of the hearing. The student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by a person of the student’s choice. The hearing panel that will adjudicate such challenges will be the Chief Academic Officer, the Registrar if the challenge concerns a document maintained by the Dean of Students, the Dean of Students if the challenge concerns a document maintained by the Registrar, two faculty members selected by the Faculty Steering Committee and two student members selected by Student Senate. No member of the hearing panel may have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.

Decisions of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panel if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education record statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the education record, maintained as part of the student record, and released whenever the record in question is disclosed.

A student has the right to submit a written complaint to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605, if the student believes the College has violated the student’s right under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Revisions, clarifications and changes may be made in this policy at any time and without prior notice.

Annual Notification

Students will be notified of their F.E.R.P.A. rights annually by publication in the student handbook.

Types, Locations, and Custodians of Education Records

The following is a list of the types of records that the University maintains, their locations, and their custodians.

Admissions RecordsVice President and Dean for Student Affairs
Administration Building
Vice President
Cumulative Academic RecordsRegistrar's Office
Administration Building
Health RecordsHealth Services
The Center
Financial Aid RecordsFinancial Aid Office
Administration Building
Financial RecordsAccounting Office
Administration Building
Accounting Manager
Placement RecordsCareer and Internship Center
The Center
Progress RecordsRegistrar's Office
Administration Building
Academic RecordsFaculty Office
Individual Office
Instructor, Adviser
Disciplinary RecordsVice President and Dean
for Student Affairs
Administration Building
Vice President