Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The acronym FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g, 34CFR§99). Enacted by Congress in 1974, FERPA is sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA requires faculty, staff, and administrative officers at CCBS to treat education records in a legally-specified manner, outlining procedures for providing student access to such record, procedures for maintaining the privacy of student records, and institutional penalties for violation of its stipulations.
FERPA requires that a student’s education records be:
- Disclosed only to persons who meet the strict definition of a school official who has a legitimate educational interest in the records (or others explicitly granted access under the law). Contact the Registrar’s Office for a complete listing of these individuals.
- Made available within 45 days of the student’s written request for inspection and review.
A school official is defined as:
- A person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position.
- A student, alumnus, or other person who is serving on an official committee (e.g., disciplinary, grievance) or is assisting a school official in a task.
- A trustee or outside contractor (e.g., health or medical professional, attorney, auditor) acting as an agent for the college.
A school official has a legal right to know if a person defined as having a legitimate educational interest is
- Performing a task that is specified in his/her position or related to student discipline.
- Providing a service or benefit related to a student/a student’s family, or maintaining safety and security on campus.
An example of legitimate educational interest would be an advisor who needs to review a student’s education record to determine what courses have been or need to be completed; this task is related to student advising. The advisor would not be authorized to view education records that are not relevant to the task at hand. Curiosity does not qualify as a legal right to know.
Those who receive student record information may use it only for the purpose specified. If a third party discloses personally-identifiable student information in violation of FERPA, the educational agency or institution which disclosed the information to the third party is prohibited from permitting access to education records to that third party for a period of not less than five years.
Parents have the right to expect confidentiality of certain types of information about them in student records and, under certain conditions, to gain access to information in student education records. For purposes of FERPA, the college considers all students to be independent; this limits the student education record information that may be released to parents (without the student’s specific written permission) to Directory Information only.
The law does not require the release of education records to any party other than the student. Additional parties to whom education records may be released without written permission are:
- Officials of another educational institution in which a student intends to enroll. The student should receive notification of the disclosure, unless the student initiated it.
- Appropriate persons in connection with an emergency, if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health/safety of the student or others.
- Persons specified in a lawfully-served judicial order or subpoena, provided the college makes a reasonable effort to notify the student in advance of compliance (unless in the case of grand jury or other subpoenas which prohibit notification).
- Parents of dependent students as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. A student must have indicated that either parent claimed him/her as a tax dependent on an Application for Admission submitted within 12 months of the request for student information. Otherwise, the parent must provide a copy of the most recently-required Federal Income Tax Return indicating that the student in question was claimed.
- Employees working with an application for financial aid, with schools to which a student is applying, with federal and state government agencies and officials, with accrediting agencies, and with organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies if conducted so as not to permit the personal identification of any individual student.
Student records include any and all records, in any medium, maintained by CCBS which are directly related to a student (or are personally-identifiable records or files). Although the term “student records” and “education records” are often used interchangeably, they are distinguishable under FERPA. The following student records are not considered education records and are not subject to FERPA protection:
- CCBS law enforcement records;
- Employment records when the employment is not connected to student status;
- Medical and mental health records used only for the treatment of the student (protected by other laws);
- Faculty and staff personal notes or records which are shared with substitutes (memory-jogger type records);
- Alumni records which do not relate to the person as a student;
- Application records of students not admitted to the college.
Written permission must be obtained from the student before releasing an education record, unless the request for release fits certain exceptions. The section entitled Directory Information summarizes these exceptions.
One exception for which written permission from the student is not generally required is the release of directory information. Although FERPA does not require the release of directory information, an educational institution is allowed to designate certain types of information that may be released without seeking written permission from the student. Students have the right to prohibit the release of all or part of any item(s) listed as directory information. A student may restrict the release of directory information by completing a Withholding Information request form in the Registrar’s Office. This request to restrict the release of information becomes a part of the student’s record and remains in effect (even after graduation) until the student instructs the institution, in writing, to remove the hold status on the record.
Requests for releasing any directory information should be directed to the Registrar’s Office to ensure that the student has not placed a hold on his/her record. If the person making the request fits the profile of those previously described who are allowed access to education records without the student’s permission, the records may be released; this information can be released even when access is prohibited in writing by the student. Directory information may be provided to the requestor by mail, by telephone, or in person. Such information may be made public.
Carolina College of Biblical Studies has chosen to designate the following items as Directory Information:
- Telephone number
- Email Address
- Date of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and dates received
- Current schedule of classes (released to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies)
- Classification (e.g., freshman, senior)
- College and major
- Full- and part-time status
- Level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate)
- Academic honors
- Awards and scholarships
- Most recent institution attended, including high school
- Participation in recognized activities
- Photograph (released to local, state, and federal law enforcement law enforcement agencies only)
Other Rights Under FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords certain other rights with respect to education records. These rights are:
The right to inspect and review education records within 45 days of the day the college receives a request for access. You may submit to the Registrar a written request identifying the record(s) you wish to inspect. The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify you of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar, the Registrar will advise you of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
The right to request the amendment of education records that you believe to be inaccurate or misleading. You may request that the college amend a record you believe is inaccurate or misleading. You should write the official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record you want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the college decides not to amend the record as you requested, you will be notified of the decision and advised of your right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided when you are notified of the right to a hearing.
The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. FERPA allows disclosure without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests in the information. A school official is a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position (including security 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 a person 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. Upon request, the college also is permitted to disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
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 complete regulations and full definitions of terminology are at the FERPA page on the U.S. Department of Education website. If you have other questions about FERPA, you may visit the website of the Family Policy Compliance Office or you may write to them:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605
Updated: July 2023