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University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act

WHAT IS FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act)?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld. Go to www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco to learn more.

 

To which information does FERPA apply? FERPA applies to personally identifiable information in educational records. This includes items such as the student's name, names of family members, addresses, personal identifiers such as social security numbers, and personal characteristics or other information that make the student's identity easily traceable.


What are educational records?

What are educational records? Educational records are all records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting on its behalf. A record means any information recorded in any way, including handwriting, print, tape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and digital images.


Educational records do not include the following:
• sole possession records -- records kept in the sole possession of the maker which are used only as a personal memory aid and are not accessible or reviewed by any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record);
• medical or psychological treatment records that include those maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists;
• employment records, provided that employment is not contingent upon being a student;
• law enforcement records; and
• records collected about an individual after that person is no longer a student at UW-Sheboygan.

 

To whom does FERPA apply? At UW-Sheboygan, FERPA rights apply to students. A student is a person who is or has been in attendance at the institution, regardless of the person's age.


What are a student's rights under FERPA? Under FERPA, a student has a right to
• inspect and review his or her educational records;
• request to amend his or her educational records;
• have some control over the disclosure of information from his or her educational records.


If a parent or eligible student feels that the institution has not fully honored his/her privacy rights under FERPA, a written complaint may be filed with the Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. The Family Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. The university notifies students annually of their FERPA rights in Appendix C, Chapter 9, of the General Information catalog Additional information is available at www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco.


Do students have a right to see and change their educational records? Upon written request, the university shall provide a student access to his or her educational records except for financial records of the student's parents or guardian; and confidential letters of recommendation where the student has signed a waiver of right of access. If the records contain information on more than one student, the requesting student may inspect, review, or be informed on only the specific information about his or her own records. A student may obtain copies of his or her educational records at a cost of ten cents per page, an official transcript of academic record for ten dollars, and an unofficial copy of the permanent academic record for ten dollars. Educational records covered by FERPA normally will be made available within forty-five days of the request.

 

The contents of a student's educational records may be challenged by the student on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student by submitting a written statement to the custodian of records. UW Colleges Registrar is the official custodian of records at the University.


Is there some way that I can block my information? According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled. Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that their names will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other college publications.


What is directory information? FERPA identifies certain information, called directory information, that may be disclosed without the student's permission. The university has designated the following information as directory information:
• Student's name
• Local, permanent, and email addresses
• UWS email address
• Telephone listing
• Date and place of birth
• Major fields of study
• Dates of attendance
• Enrollment status
• Degrees, awards, and honors received, including selection criteria
• Most recently attended previous educational institution
• Classification
• Expected graduation date
• Participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
• Weight and height, if a member of an athletic team
• Student parking permit information
• Job title and dates of employment when employed by the University in a position that requires student status

 

Who has access to student educational records? According to FERPA, non-directory information may not be released without prior written consent from the student. FERPA prohibits an educational institution from releasing confidential, non-directory information about a student without the student's consent. Under FERPA, a school is permitted to provide access to third parties authorized by a student, but the school is not required to do so. The school is required only to provide students access to their own education records.
Examples of non-directory information are:
• financial/account information
• grades/exam scores
• grade point average (GPA)
• test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)
• progress reports

 

A student can authorize faculty and staff to use their education records to write letters of recommendation or serve as professional references by completing a Request for Disclosure of Education Records form. The student should give a copy of the form to each person asked to serve in this capacity. The authorization remains in effect until cancelled by the student.


A student can also authorize access for parents, guardians, other family members, or any other third party as designated by the student, by completing the Request for Disclosure of Education Records form and submitting it to the Student Affairs Office. The authorization remains in effect until the student re-submits the form and cancels the authorization.


Exceptions are listed in the General Information catalog; they include access by appropriate university administrators, faculty members, or staff members who require access to educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties; officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll; and in connection with a student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid.


What is legitimate educational interest? Legitimate educational interest is access to educational records by appropriate University administrators, faculty members, staff members, appropriate administrators or staff members of the UW-Sheboygan, or contractors acting on behalf of the University, who require such access in order to perform their legitimate educational and business duties, when such records are needed in furtherance of the educational or business purposes of the student or University.


Whom should I contact with questions or concerns?
Direct general questions to the Student Affairs Office.


Resources:
FERPA
FERPA updates US Department of Education 12/09/08

This site should not be considered legal advice from/nor does UW-Sheboygan provide legal information to individuals.