The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
By Pamela Enser, Registrar, SUNY Empire State College
April 5, 2017
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. The rights allowed to students are:
1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day Empire State College receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Office of the Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The college registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student how the records may be inspected.
2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
Students should write the college registrar and clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate.
If SUNY Empire State College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the student shall be notified of the decision and advised as to his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
Note: This does not apply to the situation in which a student disagrees with an evaluation or outcome for an academic study. The Student Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure is followed for all requests regarding reconsideration of an academic decision.
3. The right to provide written consent before Empire State College discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by Empire State College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of Empire State College who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for Empire State College.
Other exceptions not requiring consent for disclosure include forwarding educational records to other agencies or institutions that have requested the records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll; providing information to authorized representatives of the comptroller general of the United States and the Department of Education; the accrediting organizations carrying out their functions; to comply with judicial order; and in the event of a health or safety emergency.
Certain categories of information are designated as “Directory Information” by the act and by the college and may be released without the prior consent of the student. At Empire State College, this information includes:
Category 1: name, address, phone number, dates of attendance.
Category 2: previous institutions attended, are of study, concentration, degree conferred (including dates).
Category 3: Participation in officially recognized college activities, date and place of birth, country of citizenship.
Students who wish to prohibit the release of any or all of the categories of Directory Information may do so by completing the form provided for the purpose and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar at the Coordinating Center in Saratoga Springs, NY within two weeks of the start date of an enrollment. It will be effective for one year following the date of the enrollment. If the student wishes to renew the request to prevent disclosure after one year, he or she must submit a new request. Copies of the form are available at all locations of the college.
4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Empire State College 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, 20202-5920
For more information contact the SUNY Empire State College Office of the Registrar.