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  • FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a Federal Law
  • Also known as the Buckley Amendment
  • Protects the privacy of a student’s educational records
  • Applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Secretary of Education

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. (Family Policy Compliance Office) The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights are:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, or head of the academic department [or appropriate official] written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The College 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 College 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 or misleading. Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College 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.
  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 school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is defined as a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

    [Optional] Upon request, the College discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. [NOTE: FERPA requires an institution to make a reasonable attempt to notify the student of the records request unless the institution states in its annual notification that it intends to forward records on request. As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expanded 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. 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.

  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College 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, S.W. 
Washington, DC 20202-4605

What is Directory or Public Information?

" . . . information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed." (1988 Final Regulations) Directory Information can NEVER include:

  • Social security number
  • Student identification number
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Citizenship
  • Gender
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Grades
  • GPA
  • Daily Class Schedule

Directory Information at Northwestern College:

  • Student's name, local address, permanent address, email address, photos, and telephone numbers (including cell phone numbers).
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Student Photo (Look Book Photo)
  • Names and dates of previous high schools and colleges attended.
  • Classification (FR/SO/JR/SR/SPEC), enrollment status.
  • Major field of study.
  • Dates of attendance and anticipated date of graduation.
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
  • Degrees and awards granted.
  • Name, address, and telephone number or parents, guardians and/or spouse.

Students are entitled to request that any or all of this information not be made publicly available.  Such a request must be made in writing.  See the college registrar if you want to restrict release of any directory information.

  • A student's FERPA rights at Northwestern College begin once the student is registered, regardless of age.
  • Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student, except by provisions outlined in law. To whom information CAN be disclosed without student consent.
  • As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect all educational records in your possession. Discussing the content of those records with third parties (i.e., parents, potential employers, etc.) may constitute a violation of the student's right to privacy of their records.
  • Directory Information  (see Family Educational Rights and Privacy link above) can be released without the student's written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well. 
  • You have access to information only for legitimate "educational" use in completion of your responsibilities as a college employee. Information cannot be used for any other purpose.
  • If you are ever in doubt, DO NOT release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar's Office at ext. 7145. or at svankley@nwciowa.edu. The Office of the Registrar is responsible for student record information.

Most information provided to the College by a student for use in the educational process is considered a student educational record. Some examples are:

  • Personally Identifiable Information (i.e., student name, social security number, personal characteristics)
  • Grades
  • Class Schedules

The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. Student educational records may be:

  • A document in the Registrar's Office
  • A computer printout in your office
  • A class list on your desk
  • A computer display screen
  • Notes you have taken during an advisement session

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. 

A student at Northwestern College has the following rights with regard to his or her educational records:

·         The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day Northwestern College receives a request for access.  Students should submit to the Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect.  The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. 

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

o   A student who wishes to ask the school to amend a record should write to the Registrar and clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

o    If the school decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the school will notify the student of the decision and the student’s 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.

·         The right to provide written consent before the college discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. 

o   The school discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by Northwestern College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law en­forcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance com­mittee.  A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of Northwestern College who performs an institutional service or function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks.  A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educa­tion record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for Northwestern College.

·         The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Northwestern College 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

v  According to FERPA, Northwestern College may release information without the student’s written consent to the following:

a.       school officials, as identified by Northwestern College, determined by the college to have a legitimate educational interest,

b.      officials of other institutions in which the student seeks to enroll,

c.       persons or organizations providing to the student financial aid, or determining financial aid decisions,

d.      accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions,

e.       parents of a student who have established that student’s status as a dependent according to IRS Code of 1986, Section 152,

f.       persons in compliance with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena,

g.      persons in an emergency, if the knowledge of the information, in fact, is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons,

h.      another educational institution (e.g. a high school) as long as the student is enrolled in or receives services from the other institution.

v  As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expanded 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.

o   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.

o   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.

v  FERPA permits institutions to identify certain items of information as “directory information”.  This information may be provided to third parties without the consent of the student.  Directory information at Northwestern College consists of the following:

  • Student's name, local address, permanent address, email address, photos, and telephone numbers (including cell phone numbers).
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Student Photo (Campus Directory)
  • Names and dates of previous high schools and colleges attended.
  • Classification (FR/SO/JR/SR/SPEC), enrollment status.
  • Major field of study.
  • Dates of attendance and anticipated date of graduation.
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
  • Degrees and awards granted.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of parents, guardians and/or spouse.
Students are entitled to request that any or all of this information not be made publicly available.  Such a request must be made in writing to the Registrar’s Office during the first 10 days of the semester. 

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