Privacy of Student Records: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

In 1974, the Congress of the United States enacted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Public Law 93-380, as amended, setting out requirements designed to protect the privacy of students. Specifically, the statute governs 1) access to records maintained by certain educational institutions and agencies, and 2) the release of such records. In brief, the statute provides that such institutions must provide students access to official records directly related to themselves and an opportunity for a hearing to challenge such records; that institutions must obtain the written consent of the student before releasing personally identifiable data from records to other-than-specified exceptions; and that students must be notified of these rights.

1. Student Rights
As such, all students of the University of the Arts have the following rights with regard to educational records maintained by the University:

  1. The right to review educational records that are maintained by the University
    These records generally include all records of a personally identifiable nature; however, they exclude the financial records of parents and confidential letters and statements of recommendation received prior to June 1, 1975.
  2. The right to inspect and review records
    Such requests may be made by completing an "Access Request for Educational Records," which is available in the Office of the Registrar. Upon receipt of a request, an appointment will be made to review records within 45 days.
  3. The right to appeal misinformation in the files
    If a student believes any information in the file is inaccurate or misleading, that individual may request, in writing, the custodian of the record to amend, delete, or otherwise modify the objectionable material. If said request is denied, the student may request that a hearing be held to further pursue the request. At this hearing, the student may be represented by a person of his or her choice, if so desired. If after the hearing the request to amend is again denied by the University, the student has the right to place in the file a statement or other explanatory document, provided that such statements or documents relate solely to the disputed information.
  4. The right to appeal violation of rights
    If a student believes that any of his or her rights hereunder have been violated by the University, he or she should make such facts known to the Dean of Students in writing. If the Dean of Students does not resolve the matter and the student still feels that his or her rights have been violated, he or she may so inform the Department of Education in writing.
  5. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education
    Students have 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, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20202-5920
  6. The right to select a physician or other appropriate professional, at personal expense, to review records on a student's behalf, that have been created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional while an individual has been a student at the University, filed with the University.

2. Definitions

  1. The Educational Record maintained by the University will consist of:
    1. Directory information as noted above
    2. Application for admission
    3. Applicant's secondary school records
    4. Cumulative University of the Arts records of grades, credits, grade point average and academic actions
    5. Correspondence (or copies thereof) re: admission, enrollment, registration, probation
    6. Student petitions
    7. Disciplinary actions
    8. Departmental appraisals and evaluations of student progress
  2. The Educational Records do not include:
    1. Parents' and students' confidential financial documents
    2. Counseling psychologists’ files
    3. Health Office files
    4. Faculty and staff memoranda/files retained for personal/professional use
  3. Educational Records are maintained by the following:
    1. Office of the Registrar
    2. Office of the Dean of Students
    3. Financial Aid Office
    4. Finance Office
    5. Office of Continuing Studies
  4. A dependent student is defined as one who is declared a dependent by his or her parents for income tax purposes.
  5. A student is defined as a person who attends or has attended the University. Persons who have applied to but who have not attended the University as an enrolled student are not covered under FERPA.

3. University Rights & Responsibilities

  1. The University may not generally release any information outside the University that is maintained in educational records without prior consent or waiver. However, the University does have the right to release the following information: (If a student does not wish any of this information made public, either in a directory of students or in any other manner, the student must inform the Office of the Registrar no later than the end of the third week of classes each semester of the information not to be released.)
    1. Name
    2. Address
    3. Email address
    4. Telephone listing
    5. Date and place of birth
    6. Major field of study
    7. Participation in officially recognized activities
    8. Dates of attendance
    9. Degrees and awards received
    10. The most recent previous educational institution attended by the student.
    11. Enrollment status.
  2. The University may disclose FERPA-related information without consent to school officials when there is a legitimate educational interest. 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); or a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent). A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
  3. While release of information from educational records to outside parties requires the student's explicit consent, the following exceptions do not require the student's consent:
    1. Compilation of general enrollment data for reports required by U.S. Government and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania authorities
    2. Participatory information sharing with educational service associations such as the College Scholarship Service and the American Council on Education
    3. Information about an individual student in the event of a personal emergency that is judged to threaten the health and/or safety of that student
    4. Compliance with judicial orders and lawfully issued subpoenas
    5. Reference by appropriate University of the Arts faculty and professional staff
    6. In cases of violent crime, the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against an accused student to the alleged victim
    7. Any release of information as outlined above that identifies an individual student and requires that student's consent will be recorded in his or her permanent record
  4. The University reserves the right to inform parents/guardians of dependent students where it deems appropriate -- specifically when it has cause to believe that a student's status at the University may be in jeopardy due to disciplinary reasons.
  5. Requests for the records of a deceased student must be accompanied by a notarized statement from the executor of the estate of the deceased approving the release of records. Requests concerning students who have long been deceased will be evaluated by the University based on legitimate educational interest.

4. Directory Information
The University of the Arts has determined that the following information will be considered "directory information" and may release it without prior consent from the student:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Telephone listing
  4. Email address
  5. Date and place of birth
  6. Major field of study
  7. Participation in officially recognized activities
  8. Dates of attendance
  9. Enrollment status
  10. Degrees and awards received
  11. Last institution attended