Family Education Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA)
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act affords students certain rights with respect to their educational 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.
(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 the 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 University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
(2). The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advice 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.
(3). The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to schools officials with legitimate education interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit 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 Trustees; 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 tasks. A school official has a legitimate education interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
(4). The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by State University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
The foregoing rights under FERPA apply regardless of a student’s age once the student attends a postsecondary institution such as Illinois Wesleyan University.
Who is protected under FERPA?
Students, who are currently or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency, are protected.
What are education records under FERPA?
With certain exceptions, education records are defined as any record directly related to a student from which a student can be personally identified, and is maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, magnetic tape, film, computer media, microfilm, video, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school at which a student was previously enrolled.
Education records are not:
- Sole possession records (private notes of a school official that are not accessible or released to other personnel),
- Law-enforcement or campus-security records,
- Employment records,
- Medical records, or
- Post-attendance (alumni) records.
Institutions may disclose information designated as “directory information” on a student without violating FERPA. Under the terms of FERPA, Illinois Wesleyan University has established the following as directory information:
- Address (Permanent and Campus)
- Telephone number (Home and Campus)
- E-mail address
- Dates of attendance
- Major fields of study and degree
- Full or part-time enrollment status
- Academic Honors and Awards
- Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
- Participation in officially recognized activities
- Weight and height of athletic team members
The above information may be released for any purpose at the discretion of our institution; however, FERPA states that each student has the right to withhold any or all of this information. Illinois Wesleyan University will honor the student’s request to restrict the release of “Directory Information.” Once restricted, that information cannot be released without the written consent of the student.
Parental access to their children’s educational records
At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent right to inspect a student’s education records. The right to inspect is limited solely to the student. Records may be released to parents ONLY under the following circumstances: (1) through the written consent of the student, (2) in compliance with a subpoena, or (3) by producing a copy of the most recent Federal Income Tax form showing that the student was claimed as a dependent.
Federal and State Authorities access to educational records
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
What is the procedure for a parent to obtain confidential information?
It is Illinois Wesleyan University’s expectation that students should take the responsibility to inform their parents of their academic progress. In order for the University to release information to parents about their children’s progress, Illinois Wesleyan University must have on file a Waiver of Rights Under the Provisions of FERPA signed by the student. Each semester, new students are given the opportunity to file this form with the Office of the Registrar and it remains in effect as long as the student is enrolled at the University or until the student amends his/her consent.
For questions or additional information about FERPA, contact the Registrar’s Office at 556-3161.