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Vassar College

A Summary Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a law passed by Congress in 1974, and amended on occasion since then, that affords students certain rights with respect to their Education records. FERPA governs the release of these records and access to these records. In addition to this summary, the full Vassar College FERPA policy can be found on the Office of the Registrar site.

What rights does FERPA afford students?

  • The right to inspect and review their education records.
  • The right to request to amend their education records.
  • The right to limit disclosure of “personally identifiable information”
  • The right to file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with the Act.

What are Education Records under FERPA?

Education records are defined as records that are:

  • Directly related to the student and
  • Maintained by an educational institution or a party acting for the institution.
  • Education records are Not: sole possession records, law enforcement unit records, employment records, medical records, or post attendance records.

To whom and under what conditions may the College disclose personally identifiable information?

  • To anyone if the College has obtained the prior written consent of the student.
  • To anyone in response to requests for directory information (information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed). Institutions must identify those items it considers directory information (see below) and notify students that they may withhold release of this information.

When is the student's consent not required to disclose information?

  • To School officials (as defined by the institution) who have a “legitimate educational interest”.
  • In response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as the College has made a reasonable attempt to notify the student first.
  • To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs.
  • In connection with the awarding of financial aid.
  • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions.
  • In response to a health or safety emergency.
  • In response to a request for release of directory information.
  • In connection with the release of the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.
  • To accrediting organizations.

What is Directory Information at Vassar College?

  • Name
  • Student id number (not Social Security Number)
  • Address
  • Telephone
  • Email address
  • Photograph
  • Date and place of birth
  • Major fields of study including correlate sequences
  • Dates of attendance
  • Class level
  • Enrollment status
  • Participation in officially recognized activities or sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Degrees received and honors awarded
  • Most recent educational institution attended

How to Withhold the Release of Directory Information?