The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) affords a student certain rights with respect to their educational records. Columbia Southern University acknowledges this law as university policy. Under the provisions of this law, students are entitled to the following privileges:
- Inspection and review of the student’s educational records.
- Request of amendments to the student’s records to ensure they are not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy or other rights.
- Consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by CSU to comply with FERPA requirements in the instance that a complaint cannot be resolved within the university.
Requests by students to inspect, review, or amend must be submitted in writing and identify the following:
- Record the student wishes to inspect
- Signature and date
For requests to amend, students must clearly identify the portion of the educational record the student is requesting be changed and specify why the record should be changed. If the requested change is not approved, the student will be notified of the university’s decision, and the student’s right to a hearing. FERPA regulations now allow the request to be submitted electronically.
Students are informed of those instances where FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent in the catalog information (electronically and in print); however, FERPA allows schools to disclose student records, without consent, to the following parties:
- School officials with legitimate educational interest
- Other schools to which a student is transferring
- Specified officials for audit of evaluation purposes
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school
- Accrediting organizations
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
- State and local authorities
Release of student “directory” information is also permitted by FERPA. CSU identifies “directory” information as name, address, telephone number, email address, date and place of birth, honors and awards, dates of attendance, major field of study, enrollment status, previous institutions attended, photograph or other comparable information.
Personally identifiable information (or non-releasable information) includes all information not defined as directory information and may not be released without the express written consent of the student. The consent to release must:
- Identify and authenticate a particular person as the source of the consent (whether in writing or transmitted electronically) and
- Indicate that person’s approval of the information contained in the electronic consent.
Students may control the release of directory information by completing the request to revoke directory information release form. Upon receipt of this form, a privacy hold will be placed on the student’s record.
To whose record does the act apply?
FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are, or have been, in attendance at CSU, including students in continuing education programs sponsored by the university. FERPA does not apply to records of applicants who are denied admittance or, if accepted, do not attend CSU.
To what record does the act apply?
The act applies to all education records maintained by CSU, and all parties acting for CSU, which are directly related to a student. Records containing a student’s name, identification number, or other personally identifiable information, in whatever medium, are covered by FERPA unless identified in one of the act’s excluded categories.
Enforcement and Penalties
The CSU Office of the Registrar is responsible for university compliance with this policy. Responsibility for administering the act by the federal government has been assigned to the Family Policy Compliance Office within the United States Department of Education. This office reviews and investigates complaints and attempts to bring compliance through voluntary means.
Students who need assistance or who wish to file a complaint under FERPA should do so in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, sending pertinent information through mail, concerning any allegations to the following address:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920
1 (800) USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)