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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Policy Number STU-012
Effective Date December 17, 2007
Responsible Office/Person University Registrar
Related Policies
Additional History
Additional References

Policy Statement
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Part 99 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations) allows present of former students at educational institutions access to educational records kept on them, as well as establishing basic protections of privacy of their records. The law applies to educational records, which are defined as those records that are directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution. The law does not apply to applicants seeking admissions to the University.

Purpose
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth respects the privacy of student educational records and complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. In accordance with this act, this policy communicates student rights with respect to their educational records and presents the University’s specific institutional FERPA policies.

Definitions
For the purposes of this policy, the University uses the following definitions of terms:

Student: A student is defined as any person who attends or has attended the University. (This term does not encompass applicants to the university who do not attend or are not yet attending.)

Educational records: An education record is defined as any record (in handwriting, print, tapes, film, or other medium) maintained by the University or an agent of the University that is directly related to a student, except the following:

A personal record kept by a staff/faculty member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record.
Employment records of a student provided the records are used only in relation to the individual’s employment.
Records maintained by the Counseling Center and Health Center concerning students as clients of the Center(s).
Alumni records which contain information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the University and which do not relate to the person as a student.
Records maintained by the University if the record is maintained solely for law enforcement purposes and is revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction.
The University makes available to students a listing of the types and locations of the student education records that it maintains at the Office of the University Registrar.

Procedures

Annual Notification

Students will be notified of their FERPA rights annually by publication in semester class schedule booklets.

Procedure to Inspect Education Records

Students may inspect and review their education records upon request to the Office of University Records. The student should submit a written request that identifies as precisely as possible the record or records he or she wishes to inspect. The Registrar’s Office will make the needed arrangements for access as promptly as possible and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Access must be given in forty-five (45) days or less from the receipt of the request. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the portion of the records that relate to him/her.

Right of University to Refuse Access

The University will not permit a student to inspect the following records:

Financial statements of the student’s parents.
Letters and statements of recommendations for which the student has waived his or her right of access, or which were placed in the file before January 1, 1975.
Records connected with the application to attend the University if that application was denied or the student did not matriculate.
The University reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect those records that are excluded from the FERPA definition of educational records.

Copies of Educational Records

Access to view records does not necessarily convey a right to receive copies. The University reserves the right to deny copies of records in any of the following situations:

The student lives within commuting distance of the University.
The student has an unpaid financial obligation to the University.
There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.
Copies are legitimately restricted – for example, an examination the professor does not want released.
The fee for copies, if allowed, will be 10 cents per page. We may also charge for copying time and postage.

Retention of Records
The University retains records that continue to have a legitimate function but may discard records that have no continuing utility. To cite one example, after an appropriate retention period records used in providing a student with academic advising in a certain major may be discarded after a student changes to a new major, or graduates. The University will not discard any records after receiving notification, as above, of a student’s request to view those records.

Disclosure of Educational Records to Others
FERPA restricts significantly the right of others to view a student’s educational records. The following are categories of individuals who by federal law and the procedures established for the university may view or receive a student’s educational records:

The student him or herself (except materials to which the student has waived the right of access, such as confidential letters of recommendation).
Persons, whom the student authorizes by name in a written, signed statement that names the records to be released. In addition to special circumstances, this rule covers requests to send transcript copies to others, such as employers or other educational institutions. Such disclosure may also be incorporated within signed agreements to participate in any activity or program – to example, receiving a scholarship.
Individuals who are “officials” of the campus and university and who have a “legitimate educational interest” in the record or a “need to know” information in the record. At the University, “officials” includes:
Persons employed or contracted by the University in an administrative, supervisory, teaching, research, or support staff position (in some cases including hired as support staff);
Officers of the University of Massachusetts central administration;
Students or others serving on committees where legitimate “need to know” exists (examples are persons serving on a committee that recommends award of scholarships or serving on the board of an honor society).

Such officials have a “legitimate educational interest” or “need to know” if performing a task that includes each of the following:

It falls within the context of their assigned institutional duties or responsibilities;
It relates to the functioning of the office, position, or committee involved;
It relates to the functioning of the office, position, or committee involved;
It relates to the education of the disciplining of the student; and
It is consistent with the purposes for which the information is kept.
Parents who have established that the student is a dependent on their most recent federal income tax return, and then only in individual cases by special request. Otherwise parents have no right of access to their daughter or son’s educational records.

Persons or organizations providing financial aid to students or determining those aid awards, as necessary to determine eligibility, amounts, or conditions of an award or to enforce its terms and conditions.

Persons in compliance with a judicial order or lawful subpoena. The university will make a reasonable attempt to notify the student in advance of such release of information. In the case of a Federal Grand Jury subpoena, notification is not given.

Appropriate parties in an emergency if the knowledge or information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others.

Officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, upon request and with appropriate documentation.

Certain officials of the U. S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state educational authorities, in connection with certain state or federally supported education programs.

State and local officials or authorities to whom such information is specifically required to be reported;
Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the university.
Accrediting organizations to carry out their functions.

An alleged victim of any crime of violence, of the final results of any institutional disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator of that crime with respect to that crime.

Post-secondary institutions may disclose the final results of any disciplinary proceeding for a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense to anyone if the institution determines that the student committed a violation of its rules with respect to the crime;
Post-secondary institutions may disclose to a parent or legal guardian, information regarding a student’s violation of any law or institutional rule or policy governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the student is under the age of 21 and the institution has determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation.

Persons authorized to view or retain a student’s educational records, as above, may in no case transmit, share, or disclose the information to any third party. All third-party requests for information should be addressed to the Office of University Records.

Record of Requests for Disclosure

The University will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosure of information from a student’s educational records. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information. However, no record is kept of instances in which officials access a student’s records.

Information That Can Be Disclosed Publicly (“Directory Information”)
The University has designated the following categories of student information as “directory information,” which is information that can be disclosed publicly without permission: student’s name, local and permanent addresses and phone numbers, electronic mail address, most recently attended previous school or college, major field of study, dates of attendance, hometown where applicable, membership in university curricular and extra-curricular organizations, weight/height of members of athletic teams, and degrees and awards received.

Currently enrolled students may require the University to withhold disclosure of the above categories of directory information by submitting a written request to the Student Enrollment Service Center. The University assumes that absence of a student’s request to withhold public information indicates individual approval of disclosure.

Once a nondisclosure request has been filed, it will remain in effect until further notification from the student. This applies both before and after graduation. We wish to alert students to possible negative consequences of withholding disclosure of directory information; an example might be a company asking for a current address to contact you to offer you a job.

The University makes its current Directory available not only to students but to members of the general public, including political groups, public or private agencies, and advertisers. The full directory is offered as a whole in printed form (computer print-out), for a fee that recovers our expenses. It is not offered electronically or sorted by special categories. However, telephone numbers are not included.

Correction of Educational Records

Students have the right to ask to have records corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. Following are the procedures for the correction of records:

A student must ask the University Office of University Records to amend a record. In so doing, the student should identify the part of the record he/she wants changed and specify why he/she believes it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his or her privacy or other rights.

The University may comply with the request or may decide not to comply. If it decides not to comply, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise him/her of his/her right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right.

Upon request, the University will then arrange for a hearing and notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

A hearing officer who is a disinterested party will conduct the hearing; however, the hearing officer may be an official of the institution. The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student’s education records. One or more individuals, including an attorney, may assist the student.

The University will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.

The student has a right to file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 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, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605

Responsibility
The University Registrar has the responsibility for compliance with this policy.

Attachments
None.

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