What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also referred to as the Buckley Amendment, is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. Under this law, students have the following rights with regards to their educational records:
- The right to inspect and review their education records.
- The right to request an amendment to their education records when they believe the records are inaccurate or misleading.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in their education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with FERPA.
Additional information concerning these rights is available in the annual notice to students.
What is an education record?
An education record is any record that is directly related to a student that is maintained by the College or by a party acting on behalf of the College. This includes information recorded in any medium such as handwriting, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm and microfiche.
What is not considered an education record?
FERPA outlines many records not considered as an education record, and therefore not afforded protection under FERPA. Some of these are outlined below.
- Sole possession records or private notes held by a school official that are not accessible or released to other personnel, except individuals serving as a temporary substitute for the school official;
- Campus security or law enforcement records that are held by a school official that are not accessible by or released to other personnel except in emergency situations;
- Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution, unless the employment is contingent on their status as a student (e.g., work-study students).
- Records of an institution that contain information about an individual obtained only after that person is no longer a student at that institution (e.g., alumni records).
What disclosures does FERPA allow for without the provision of student consent?
FERPA outlines some exceptions for the disclosure of a student’s education record without the student’s consent. Some of the exceptions are provided below.
- The disclosure is to school officials who have been determined to have 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 the bookstore, 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 responsibility.
- The disclosure is to officials of another institution in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
- The disclosure is to state or local educational authorities auditing or evaluating Federal or State supported education programs or enforcing Federal laws which relate to those programs.
- The disclosure is pursuant to a lawfully issued court order or subpoena.
- The disclosure is made for compliance with the Solomon Amendment.
- The disclosure is to a parent who legally declares the student as a dependent, as defined by 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.
- The disclosure is to parents and legal guardians of students under the age of 21, regardless of their dependency status, of information regarding a student’s violation of laws or policies governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- The disclosure is made in situations deemed by the College as a health/safety emergency.
- The disclosure is provided to organizations conducting studies to improve instruction, or to accrediting organizations.
- The disclosure is made in connection with the receipt of financial aid (validating eligibility).
- The information disclosed has been designated as directory information by the College.
What is directory information, and what student information does Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) define as directory information?
FERPA requires that colleges and universities, with certain exceptions, obtain a student’s written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from a student’s education records. However, LFCC may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” to third parties without written consent, unless the student has advised LFCC to the contrary in accordance with the College’s procedures.
In accordance with FERPA, LFCC has defined the following items as directory information that can be disclosed without written consent by the student, unless the student has advised the College that he/she does not want the items released:
- Student’s name
- Major/field of study
- Grade level
- Number of credit hours
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Height/weight of athletic team members
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees, honors and awards received
- Most recent educational institution attended
If a student does not wish for the above items to be disclosed without his/her written consent, the student must complete this request by the first day of classes in the regular semester to prevent any possible release of information. To complete this, you may submit a Request to Withhold Directory Information Form (available at the Admissions and Records Office) or go to your MY LFCC account. After logging in, click on Campus Personal Information, then Privacy Settings.
Who should I contact if I have questions regarding FERPA?
Individuals having questions regarding FERPA may contact the College Registrar, Tina Anderson. If the Registrar cannot be reached, information can also be obtained from any campus Admissions and Records Office.