FERPA – Students Rights

Student in class

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: Notification of Student Rights

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. A student should submit a written request to the University Registrar that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The Registrar’s Office 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’s Office, the Registrar will make arrangements for the student to review the requested record(s) at a time and place agreeable to all parties involved. Such arrangements will be scheduled within the allotted time limit.

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. A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write the University Registrar, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing re­garding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without con­sent. The University discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law en­forcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance com­mittee, or assisting 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 the University.

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


Release of Student Information

The following is designated “Directory Information” which may be disclosed upon justifiable request without the student’s written permission:

Name; birthdate
School address
School email address
Campus box number
Telephone number; campus or school
Parents’ names
Enrollment status; dates of enrollment
Degree earned; date of degree conferment
Athletic information

The University’s stated policy is not to release such information to vendors seeking to solicit business from students unless the vendor has been chosen by the University to provide a specific service to the student (i.e. graduation pictures, yearbook). University officials may choose to forward a vendor’s information or a link to a website via student email if the vendor is deemed to provide a general service that students might want to purchase (i.e. graduation announcements). Shorter University has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to provide degree and enrollment verification.

Written notification must be filed in the Registrar’s Office to prevent disclosure in part or in full. Any student who wishes to prevent disclosure of directory information must meet with a staff member in the Registrar’s Office prior to submitting such written notification so that the student will have a clear understanding of the ramifications of this action.

All students have records in one or more of the following offices: Business; Campus Security, Dean of Students, Financial Aid, Health Services, and the Registrar. The University will not release personally identifiable information (containing SSN, Student ID, etc.) or information not identified as “directory” information to a third party without the student’s written consent (either original signature or electronic signature). Electronically transmitted facsimiles (fax) will not be considered an “original” signature for these purposes. Official copies of an academic record will not be released if the student has financial obligations to the school which have not been met. The University will not release the educational records of deceased students without the written authorization of the executor/executrix of the deceased student’s estate or next of kin, if an executor/executrix has not been appointed. The University will comply with legitimate written requests for information from law enforcement agencies and representatives of the military.

The privacy of student records may be broken at a time of emergency defined in terms of the following considerations:

  • the seriousness of the threat to health or safety
  • the need for access to the records in meeting the emergency
  • whether the person requesting the records is in a position to deal with the emergency.
  • the extent to which time is of the essence in dealing with the emergency.

Annual Notification of Rights

Under FERPA, a school must annually notify eligible students in attendance of their rights under FERPA. The annual notification must include information regarding an eligible student’s right to inspect and review his or her education records, the right to seek to amend the records, the right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records (except in certain circumstances), and the right to file a complaint with the Office regarding an alleged failure by a school to comply with FERPA. It must also inform eligible students of the school’s definitions of the terms “school official” and “legitimate educational interest.”

FERPA does not require a school to notify eligible students individually of their rights under FERPA. Rather, the school may provide the notice by any means likely to inform eligible students of their rights. Thus, the annual notification may be published by various means, including any of the following: in a schedule of classes; in a student handbook; in a calendar of school events; on the school’s website (though this should not be the exclusive means of notification); in the student newspaper; and/or posted in a central location at the school or various locations throughout the school. Additionally, some schools include their directory information notice as part of the annual notice of rights under FERPA.

For more information about FERPA rights, please reference the academic catalog and student handbook.

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