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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) FAQs for Students

Policy Number STU-014
Effective Date December 17, 2007
Responsible Office/Person University Registrar
Related Policies
Additional History
Additional References

Policy Statement
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”) is a federal law which states that universities must establish and annually disseminate a written policy that describes the university’s policy and procedures governing student education records and the privacy rights accorded to student education records under FERPA.

Purpose
It is the policy of the University to educate students about the FERPA law to assist them in understanding their rights under FERPA.

Please note that the University encourages student’s dependent on their parents to disclose to them academic and other personal information; however, it is the policy of the University not to provide academic and other personal information to parents without the student’s consent. An exception to this policy will be made when the University determines, on the basis of all circumstances, that disclosure to parents is warranted because of compelling academic, health, safety or disciplinary matters. When the University determines that disclosure is warranted, and there is no emergency, students will first be given a reasonable period of time within which to inform their parents and to request that their parents acknowledge such notification by contacting the appropriate University office.

Definitions
UMD accords to its students all rights under FERPA. UMD Student Records Policy is contained in the Student Handbook and available online at: http://www.umassd.edu/studentaffairs/studenthandbook/

Procedures

Information intended to assist students to better understand FERPA will be shared in the form of Questions and Answers:

What are FERPA rights?
When do FERPA rights begin?
What are educational records?
How can I withhold release of my directory information?
Can my parents access my student education records?
How do I authorize letters of recommendation and professional references?
What about crisis situations or emergencies?
Whom do I contact with questions or concerns?

What are FERPA rights?
Students have three primary rights under FERPA. They have the right to inspect and review their education records; the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from their education records; and the right to seek to amend their education records, under certain circumstances.

When do FERPA rights begin?
A student’s FERPA rights begin when the student registers and attends his or her first class at UMD.

What are education records?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. The information may be recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and e-mail.

How can I withhold release of my directory information?
According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him or her. Institutions must comply with the request. At UMD, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about them must complete a Request to Restrict Directory Information form, available in the appropriate Registrar’s Office. The completed form must be submitted in person to the appropriate Registrar’s Office and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. A student does not have the right to request non-disclosure to a particular person or group of persons.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that this action could have negative consequences. The names of students who have restricted their directory information will not appear in University publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of your directory information and will be told: “I’m sorry, but we have no information available about this person’s attendance at UMD.”

Can my parents access my student educational records?
At the University level, parents have no inherited rights to access or inspect their son or daughter’s education record’s, unless the student is dependent as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

If the student is not dependent, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena. Students may grant their parents (or others) permission to access their education records by filing an Authorization to Release Records to a Third Party form with the appropriate Registrar’s Office. This form remains in effect until rescinded by the student in writing.

Parents or guardians of dependent students may obtain access to their student’s education records by filing a Request for Release of Education Records form with the appropriate Registrar’s Office with a copy of the first page of their most recent Federal Income Tax Form.

Parents and guardians who have filed a Request for Release of Education Records form may also request to have their student’s grades mailed directly to them by filing a Request for Student Grades form with the appropriate Registrar’s Office.

How do I authorize letters of recommendation and professional references?
You can waive the confidentiality of your education records for faculty or staff when you ask them to write letters of recommendation or serve as profession references. Complete the Authorization for Recommendations and References form and give it to each person you ask to serve as a reference. The form is in effect until you cancel the authorization in writing.

What about crisis situations or emergencies?
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is “necessary” to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

Responsibility
Whom do I contact with questions or concerns?
General questions may be directed to the Registrar. Comments or suggestions from undergraduate and graduate students should be addressed to the Registrar, Foster Administration Building, Room 117, (508) 999-8627.

Attachments
None.

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