The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law which is designed to protect the privacy of and limit access to the education records of students.
At the post-secondary level, parents, guardians, and other individuals associated with a student are not automatically granted access to the student’s education records. Regardless of the student’s age, all rights and responsibilities associated with a student’s education records transfer from the parent or guardian to the student when the student begins attendance at a post-secondary institution (such as the University of Hartford), even if the parent or guardian is paying for the student’s education. Therefore, according to federal law, we may not discuss certain aspects of a student’s education record with a parent, guardian or other third party unless consent is granted by the student.
FERPA identifies the following privacy rights of students:
Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of an academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct person to whom the request should be addressed.
Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify the inaccuracy.
If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to University officials with legitimate educational interests. A University official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including law enforcement personnel and health staff; a person or company with whom the University has contracted, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent; a person serving on the board of regents; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her task.
A University official has a legitimate educational interest if he/she needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
The Act allows the University to issue “directory information.” Each institution defines directory information which may include name, address, telephone number, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, major field of study, and similar information. Any student objecting to the release of directory information should bring this to the attention of the registrar. Upon written notification, the directory information will be withheld.