The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. The intent is of the Legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records.
Who can receive information on a student without the student’s consent?
According to FERPA, Germanna Community College may release information without the student’s written consent to the following:
- school officials, as identified by Germanna Community College, determined to have a legitimate education interest,
- officials of other institutions in which the student seeks to enroll,
- persons or organizations providing financial aid to the students,
- accrediting organizations, carrying out their accrediting functions,
- parents of a student who have established the student’s status as a dependent according to the IRS Code of 1986, Section 152,
- persons in compliance with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena,
- persons in an emergency, if the knowledge of information, in fact, is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons.
Refusal to provide copies:
Germanna Community College reserves the right to deny transcripts or copies of records not required to be made available by the FERPA in any of the following situations:
- The student lives within commuting distance of Germanna Community College; if the student is within commuting distance, the student may be asked to come and view the file at the office rather than making a full set of copies of all file contents.
- The student has an unpaid financial obligation to the college.
- There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.
Fees for copies of records:
Germanna Community College uses Parchment to provide copies of students’ academic records. A reasonable charge may be assessed to provide copies of other records and to cover the expenses of copying time and posting.
What rights does the Act afford students with respect to their education records?
a.) The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the college receives a request for access. Students should submit to the appropriate records custodian written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The records custodian 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 college official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
b.) The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading EXCEPT to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. A student should write the college official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
If the college decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the college will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her 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.
c.) The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records. One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the college 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 college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agency); a person serving on the College Board; 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 task. 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 responsibility.
d.) The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the 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 600
Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605
Who does FERPA protect?
FERPA protects students who are currently or formerly enrolled students. Parents of students termed as “dependent” for income tax purposes may have access to the student’s education records. A copy of the parent’s most recent Federal Income Tax forms, listing the student as a dependent, must be submitted to the Admissions and Records Office to document “dependency.” FERPA does not apply to students who have applied but have not attended an institution and deceased students do not come under FERPA guidelines.
What are education records?
An education record is:
a.) any record from which a student can be personally identified and
b.) maintained by the college.
A student has the right of access to these records. Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, etc.) which are in the possession of school officials. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.
FERPA contains no requirement that certain records be kept at all.
What type of information does FERPA permit institutions to release?
FERPA permits institutions to identify certain items of student information as “directory information.” Germanna identifies directory information as the:
Student’s name, program of study, course credit load, dates of attendance, degrees and/or certificates received, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
Germanna can disclose any of these items without prior consent, unless the student notifies the Admissions and Records Office, in writing during the first ten days of the semester, that this information remains confidential. Students must submit written notification to the office of the Registrar to prevent the disclosure of directory information.
For further information about FERPA, contact:
Admissions & Records Office
10000 Germanna Point Drive
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
- Phone: (540) 891–3020
- Fax: (540) 891–3092