The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended, is a Federal law which states (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students be made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
Lebanon Valley College accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent. No one outside the institution shall have access to nor will the institution disclose any information from students’ education records without the written consent of students except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the Act.
The following applies to all students whether independent or a dependent of his or her parents. Within the Lebanon Valley College community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students’ educational interest, are allowed access to student education records. These members include personnel in the Offices of the Registrar, Controller, Financial Aid and Admissions, and other academic and administrative personnel within the limitations of their need to know. FERPA states, “When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student.”
Since access to student information begins with registration, LVC considers any student who is registered for courses at the College to be in attendance.
At its discretion the institution may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, address, e-mail address, photographs, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, academic and graduation honors, the most previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams.
Requests for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution for the entire academic career and may be changed upon written notification at the discretion of the student, at which time any prior requests will become null and void. Authorization to withhold Directory Information must be filed in the Office of the Registrar.
The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decision of the hearing panel is unacceptable. The Registrar at Lebanon Valley College has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files, and academic, cooperative education, and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written request to the Registrar listing the item or items of interest. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions which include, a copy of the academic records for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere. These copies would be made at the students’ expense at prevailing rates. Education records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of the law enforcement unit, student health record, employment records or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the students’ choosing.
Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.
A student who believes that her/his education record contains information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of her/his privacy or other rights may discuss the problem informally with the Office of the Registrar. If the Registrar’s decision is in agreement with the students’ request, the appropriate record(s) will be amended. If not, the student will be informed by the Office of the Registrar of her/his right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such a request, will inform a student of the date, place, and time of the hearing. A student may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearing by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students’ expense. The hearing panel, which will adjudicate such a challenge, will be composed of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of Student Affairs, the Associate Dean of the Faculty; and the Director of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, and the Director of the MBA Program, if applicable.
The decision of the hearing panel will be final; will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.
Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University 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 20202-5901
Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the law and institution’s policy warrants.
—October 1992 (Revised August 2007)