FERPA – Family Education Rights and Privacy Act
What does “FERPA” stand for and why is it important?
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
- This federal law requires Belmont to protect the privacy of students' education records
Rights guaranteed to students by FERPA
- The right of access to education records
- The right to consent to the release of records to third parties
- The right to challenge inaccurate or misleading information in an education record
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning non-compliance with FERPA
Do parents or legal guardians have access to a student’s education records?
- A student, regardless of age, is the “legal entity” once he or she begins to attend Belmont. FERPA rights belong to the student, not the parent or guardian.
- This means that students must consent before a record is disclosed to the parents or legal guardians.
- A student can authorize Belmont to discuss his/her educational records with parents/guardians by filling out the Consent to Release Educational Records.
What are education records?
Information recorded in any form that is directly related to a student and maintained by a college or university and by those acting for the college or university.
When is Consent Not Required?
- To individuals within the university with legitimate educational interest
- To officials at an institution in which student seeks to enroll
- To comply with a court order or subpoena
- To parents of students who are dependents for income tax purposes
- To parents in cases of drug or alcohol violation when the student is under the age of 21
- In connection with a health or safety emergency if necessary to protect the student or others
- If the data is considered directory information
What is Directory Information?
- Name, address, telephone number
- Campus e-mail address
- Date and place of birth
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance, degrees and awards received
- Previous educational agencies or institutions attended
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
What if a student wants to prohibit the disclosure of directory information as well?
- Students who do not want their directory information released may visit the Office of the Registrar to complete the appropriate form. Once the form is filed, the student’s record is flagged as “confidential” and no directory information is disclosed except as required by FERPA.
- The confidentiality hold prohibits the release of information including but not limited to transcripts, enrollment verifications, and degree verifications.
- If the student needs Belmont to release information from the student record, the request must be made in writing, accompanied by legal proof of identity. This applies whether the information is for the student’s personal use or for use by a third party.
- Graduation, withdrawal and dismissal from the university do not automatically lift the confidential status on a student’s record. The record will remain confidential until the status is revoked by the student, in writing, accompanied by legal proof of identity.
- If a confidentiality request is not filed, Belmont University assumes that a student does not object to the release of directory information.
Procedures for Protecting Students Privacy in Distance Education Courses
Belmont University is committed to protecting student privacy for students enrolled in all courses regardless of the mode of instruction (on-line, hybrid, classroom, etc.). All of the university policies regarding student privacy and information security applied through FERPA apply to distance education courses. Faculty teaching distance education courses are expected to uphold these polices and follow these procedures:
- Teach distance education courses using BlackBoard, the University's learning management system, in order to ensure security of student work and grades.
- Use the University's secure BannerWeb site to report student grades.
- Use BlackBoard or the University's email system for all official, confidential communication such as providing feedback on student work, releasing grade or course progress information to students, etc.
- Keep student work, scores or grades confidential. Students in the course should not have access to other students' work or grades.
- Keep course BlackBoard or UR email account information secure. Do not share any login information with anyone, give anyone unauthorized access to the BlackBoard course or assign a student the role of instructor or graduate assistant in BlackBoard unless the graduate assistant is assigned a teaching role in the class and has an educational need to know.
- Follow FERPA guidelines for sharing student educational record information with other faculty, staff, parents or others outside the university.