FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law protects the privacy of student education records from kindergarten through graduate school. FERPA applies to all schools that receive funds through an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education, and thus most postsecondary schools are covered by FERPA.
FERPA requires that education records be kept confidential. Records may be disclosed with the consent of the student, if the disclosure meets one of the statutory exemptions, or if the disclosure is directory information and the student has not placed a hold on release of directory information.
Students have a right of access to their records (but not necessarily the right to a copy of the record) and a right to request the correction of records that are inaccurate or misleading. If the school denies this request for correction of a record, the student may request a hearing.
Institutions must give students annual notice of their rights under this law, and most institutions accomplish this by having the policy in a central location that is distributed annually to students.
The statute defines the phrase "education record" broadly as "those records, files documents, and other materials which 1) contain information directly related to a student; and 2) are maintained by an educational institution.
FERPA Annual Notification
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:
The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University 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. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes is inaccurate. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should submit a formal request to the Registrar?s office, clearly identifying the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to an appeal which would involve the Office of the Academic Dean and the appropriate Assistant Vice President within the Enrollment Management Division.
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 of the exceptions to the prior written consent requirement in FERPA allows "school officials," including teachers, within a school to obtain access to personally identifiable information contained in education records provided the school has determined that they have "legitimate educational interest" in the information. Although the term "school official" is not defined in the statute or regulations, Stevens Institute of Technology generally interprets the term to include parties such as: professors; instructors; administrators; health staff; counselors; attorneys; clerical staff; trustees; members of committees and disciplinary boards; and a contractor, volunteer or other party to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions.
A school official generally has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Additional information about the annual notification of rights is found below in this guidance document.
Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. Stevens Institute of Technology does not release education records to any other entity without the explicit release of records by the student. The disclosure of education records to another school must occur through a transcript request.
Another exception permits a school to non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education records when such information has been appropriately designated as directory information. "Directory information" is defined as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information could include information such as the student's name, address, e-mail address, telephone listing, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, grade level or year (such as freshman or junior), and enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time). Stevens Institute of Technology considers directory information to be name, birthdate, dates of attendance, degree earned, major, and conferral date. Any other information cannot currently be released without the student's consent.
Students with complaints about violations to student record privacy or access to records may contact the Registrar's Office at 201 216-5033
FERPA release form