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FERPA

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) addresses a student's right to privacy for their educational records.

Detailed Description

Instructions for Completing a Waiver

Explanation for advisors

What is "FERPA"?

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:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.

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.

  1. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate.

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.

  1. The right to have some control over disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

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.

  1. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the office that administers FERPA are Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605.

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Completing a FERPA Waiver

Step 1:  Sign in to your Student Self-Service Account online.

Step 2:  Click on "FERPA information." (Sixth title from the top)

Step 3:  Click on "Update FERPA contacts."

Step 4:  Add new contact or edit existing contact accessibility.

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Confidentiality of Student Records - FERPA

The following is intended to give an overview of FERPA.  Please contact the Registrar’s Office with any questions or for more detailed information.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student education records.  Generally, education records are anything where the student can be identified and are maintained by the University.  It does not include private notes held by advisors which are not accessible to other personnel or, for alumni, records obtained after graduation.  The Act provides students the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information from the records.  The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records.  The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.  All students and alumni are covered by this Act. 

Directory information may be disclosed under FERPA subject to requests for non-disclosure by the student.  Directory information includes: name, address, telephone number, dates of attendance, class standing, previous institutions attended, major field of study, awards, honors, degree(s) conferred (including dates), past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors (such as height and weight of athletes), date and place of birth, e-mail address, photographs or other visual images.  Note that a student’s schedule is not directory information.  If a student has requested non-disclosure of directory information, their information will be marked as CONFIDENTIAL when viewed in the Self Service Center of Banner.  Even in these cases, University employees with a need to know are allowed access to this information. 

There are certain individuals who are entitled to view a student’s academic record under FERPA without written permission of the student.  Any university employee, or student serving on a university committee or assisting a university employee, may view a student’s academic record if there is a legitimate educational interest.  In other words, the information obtained is needed by an employee to perform their appropriate tasks or assigned responsibilities.  This right does not extend to sharing this information with a third party, with some exceptions including a health or safety emergency, subpoena, etc.  Parents of a dependent child may have access to student information without a student’s consent if they supply the university with a certified copy of their most recent federal tax return showing the student’s dependent status.  A release of this type must be recorded and kept with the educational record.  This release record will include what exactly was released, to whom the information was released, and why it was released. 

A student may sign a waiver of their FERPA rights on-line through the Self-Service Center at any time.  This waiver authorizes the release of academic records to the individuals identified by the student.  While a FERPA waiver permits the release of information to parents, it does not compel the release of information.  Advisors may use their discretion as to when the release of information would not be warranted.

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