Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Frequently Asked Questions
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as FERPA, protects the privacy of student records. The Act provides a student the right to limit disclosure of information from the records, the right to inspect and review educational records, and the right to seek to amend those records. The Act applies to all higher education institutions that are the recipients of federal funding.
Students who are admitted and deposited or registered for study at Saint Mary’s College are protected, regardless of their age or status.
Educational records include paper and electronic records, files, documents and data directly related to the student that are maintained by the College or any employee acting for the College. The records may be hand-written or in the form of print, magnetic tape, film, CD, or some other medium. This would include transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled, as well as files maintained in any academic or administrative department. With certain exceptions, a student has a right of access to those records which are directly related to her.
- Sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel.
- Campus security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes.
- Employment records of individuals who are employed by the College (unless employment is contingent upon enrollment; e.g. employment records of work-study students are educational records).
- Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment.
- Records of the College that contain information about an individual obtained after she is no longer a student at Saint Mary’s (i.e., alumnae records).
Directory information is defined as personally identifiable information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The College has defined directory information within the FERPA guidelines, and may disclose this information on a student without her consent or violating FERPA. At Saint Mary’s College directory information includes:
- local and permanent addresses (including e-mail)
- telephone number
- date of birth
- program of study
- dates of attendance
- full-or part-time status
- participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- height and weight of athletes
- photographs or videos
- degrees and awards received
- previous educational institution(s) attended
Saint Mary’s College publishes our policy and provides procedures for students to restrict releasing their directory information on the Office of the Registrar homepage.
- The student and any outside party who has the student’s written consent.
- School officials who have “legitimate educational interests” as defined in FERPA.
- Parent(s) of a student who has been granted such access by the student
- A judicial order or subpoena which allows the institution to release records without the student’s consent (however, a “reasonable effort” must be made to notify the student before complying with the order).
When is consent from the student required to disclose information (other than directory information) from her record ?
Except for specific exceptions listed in the next question, a signed and dated consent by the student must always be obtained before any disclosure is made. The written consent must specify the records that may be released, state the purpose of the disclosure and identify the party to whom the disclosure may be made.
Request to disclose information should always be handled with caution and approached on a case-by-case basis. The exceptions that do not require prior consent include:
- directory information
- information given to the student
- to parents of a student (who has been granted access by the student)
- to college officials
- to colleges in which a student seeks to enroll
- to accrediting organizations
- in connection with Financial Aid
- to Federal, State and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs
- to State and local authorities pursuant to a State law adopted before November 1974
- to organizations conducting studies for or onbehalf of Saint Mary’s or other educational institutions
- to comply with judicial order or subpoena
- health or safety emergency
- results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence
The same principles of confidentiality must be applied to electronic data that apply to paper documents. We can anticipate that electronic data may eventually replace most paper documents. Appropriate policies will be continually revisedand amended to protect the confidentiality of those records within the FERPA guidelines.
QUESTIONS? This information is intended to be a guideline for compliance with FERPA. If you have any questions regarding this information or FERPA, please contact the Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Detailed information regarding FERPA may be found at the following website: Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office.
Office of the Registrar
161 Le Mans Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556