Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Information Guide

Download the FERPA Consent to Release Educational Records Form

You can download a PDF version of the form from our site and then either fax or mail it in. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the form.

Effective October 17, 2003

WHAT IS FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children's education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student ("eligible student"). The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at 34 CFR Part 99.http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/faq.html

WHAT CONSTITUTES AN EDUCATION RECORD?

An education record is any record that contains information directly related to a student that is maintained by the institution. This includes, but is not limited to, grade information, disciplinary documentation and billing and financial aid data.

WHAT IS NOT AN EDUCATION RECORD?

Records not considered part of an education record include, but are not limited to, records of the law enforcement unit of an educational institution, records made or maintained by a physician or other recognized professional acting in his or her professional capacity, and records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at the institution.

UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY AN INSTITUTION DISCLOSE INFORMATION FROM EDUCATION RECORDS WITHOUT CONSENT?

There are several exceptions to FERPA's general prior consent rule that are set forth in the statute and the regulations. See § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. One exception is the disclosure of "directory information" if the school follows certain procedures set forth in FERPA. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(11).)

WHAT IS "DIRECTORY INFORMATION"?  

FERPA defines "directory information" as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Champlain defines directory information as the following: name, sex, date and place of birth, marital status, home and school address, email address, phone number, major field of study, extracurricular activities, dates of attendance, degrees, honors or awards, photograph or video image, the most recent education institution attended, and parents' names addresses and phone numbers.

HOW DO STUDENTS NOTIFY THE COLLEGE THAT THEY WOULD LIKE THEIR "DIRECTORY INFORMATION" HANDLED AS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION?

Students may choose to have their directory information marked confidential at any time by submitting a written request to the Registrar's Office.

WHAT DO STUDENTS DO IF THEY WOULD LIKE ONE OR MORE OF THEIR PARENT(S) OR GUARDIAN(S) TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THEIR EDUCATION RECORD?

Students must sign, date and submit the "Consent to Release of Education Records" form to the Advising and Registration Center. (You can download a PDF version of the form from our site and then either fax or mail it in. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the form.)

WHY CAN'T THE WAIVER FORM BE SUBMITTED ONLINE?

The release must be signed and dated by the student. An electronic consent accessed by a PIN does not satisfy the requirement. The U.S. Department of Education has recently initiated rulemaking that will allow electronic consent to the release of records. The proposed rule is expected to pass in the near future. Champlain will adjust procedures to permit submitting the waiver form online, if and when the rule passes.

HOW LONG WILL THE WAIVER BE IN EFFECT?

Consent will remain in effect until a student submits a notification in writing revoking their consent.

HOW DO STUDENTS REVOKE THEIR CONSENT TO RELEASE INFORMATION?

Students may submit a notification in writing, at any time, directing the College to no longer release information to their parent(s) or guardian(s). This written notification must be submitted to the Registrar's Office.

DO PARENTS OR GUARDIANS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION RECORDS? DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF THEY ARE PAYING THE TUITION?

As noted above, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student, once the student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age. However, although the rights under FERPA have now transferred to the student, a school may disclose information from an "eligible student's" education records to the parents of the student, without the student's consent, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes. Neither the age of the student nor the parent's status as a custodial parent is relevant. If a student is claimed as a dependent by either parent for tax purposes, then either parent may have access under this provision. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(8).) Parents or guardians may also have access to their student's education record, if the student has signed, dated and submitted a, "Consent to Release of Education Records" waiver described above.

MAY A POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTION DISCLOSE TO A PARENT, WITHOUT THE STUDENT'S CONSENT, INFORMATION REGARDING A STUDENT'S VIOLATION OF THE USE OR POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL OR A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE?

Yes, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure. FERPA was amended in 1998 to allow such disclosures. See § 99.31(a)15 of the FERPA regulations. Also, if the student is a "dependent student" as defined in FERPA, the institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of the student.

ARE INSTRUCTORS PERMITTED TO POST GRADES BY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS?

A student's social security number is, by definition, "personally identifiable information" under FERPA, and may not be disclosed without consent in any form. See letter to Hunter College at http://www.ed.gov/searchResults.jhtml

IF A STUDENT AND FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH FACULTY OR STAFF TO REVIEW THE STUDENT'S ACADEMIC PROGRESS IS A SIGNED CONSENT FORM STILL NEEDED?

Yes. By signing the consent form, students give the College authority to share information contained in their educational record to their parent or guardian. FERPA does not allow for information to be released on the assumption that if the student is in the room that they have given their consent.

CAN GRADES BE SENT TO STUDENTS VIA EMAIL?

Since we cannot be sure the person sending the email is who he or she claims to be, grades may not be sent to general email accounts. However, faculty may send grades to the official email account the College created for the student (samplestudent@mymail.champlain.edu).

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION REGARDING FERPA?

This guide has been developed based upon information that has come mainly from the U.S. Department of Education's Family Compliance Policy Office's (FCPO) website. The FCPO oversees institutional compliance to FERPA.


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