Family Educational Rights
and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Student Privacy at North Idaho College

 

Printable Documents (.pdf)


 

What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records and is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education (FPCO). Essentially, the act states that 1) "students" must be permitted to inspect their own "education records" and 2) "school officials" may not disclose personally identifiable information about a students without written permission from the student.

Who is considered a "student" at NIC?
Students are defined as those individuals who are enrolled and have a final admission status. Persons who applied for admission but were not admitted, or have not enrolled after the tenth day of a term, have no rights under FERPA. However, if admitted and enrolled, all admission records are then "folded into" the education record.

What is an "Educational Record?"
Education records are defined as those records directly related to a student and maintained by NIC, or by a party acting for NIC. An educational record is any record maintained by the college that is directly related to a student. These records may contain a student's name, social security number, student ID number, address, or any other piece to information that could be considered "personally identifiable."

 "Sole possession notes" (those made by one person and kept in the possession of the maker) are not considered educational records. However, sharing these notes with another person or placing them in an area where they can be viewed by others will make them educational records and, therefore, subject to FERPA.

Other records that are not considered educational records:

  • Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency.
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution that relate exclusively to their capacity as employees.
  • Records relating to a student which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist (or related professional) used solely in connection with the provisions of treatment to the student.


Who has access to my student records?

Within the NIC community, only those "school officials," individually or collectively, acting in the students' educational interest, who have a legitimate "need to know," are allowed access to student educational records. College personnel are determined to have legitimate educational insterest if the information requested is necessary for them to:

  • Perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description, or by a contract agreement.
  • Perform a task related to a student's education.
  • Perform a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Provide a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.


What is "Directory Information?"

"Directory Information" is information that, if disclosed, is not normally considered a violation of a student's privacy and, therefore, can be released without the student's written permission. Directory information can never include a student's race, gender, social security number, grades, GPA, country of citizenship, or religion. As an institution, NIC must provide "annual notification" of students' FERPA rights and the categories designated as directory information.

What information can and cannot be released at NIC?

  • The following information can be released without written consent (directory information:
    • Student's name
    • Student's address
    • Student's phone number
    • Date of attendance
    • Freshman/Sophomore classification
    • Previous institutions attended
    • Major field of study
    • Awards/Honors (including Dean's List)
    • Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
    • Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities 
    • Weight and height of members of athletic teams

  • The following information cannot be released (written consent is required).
    • Date of Birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Student ID Number
    • Class Schedule/Roster
    • Academic Standing
    • Grades
    • GPA (term and cumulative)
    • Transcript
    • Gender
    • Credits (term and cumulative)


What does FERPA say about grade posting?

Instructors may post grades without the written consent of the students only if the identities of the individuals are completely disguised such that no direct correlation to each student can be determined from the list. Accordingly, instructors should refrain from openly discussing grades in class or distributing graded material in such a way that the grades may be seen by other students.

How can a student withhold their directory information?
Students can submit a Request to Prevent Disclosure of  Directory Information form to the Registrar's Office so that all or a portion of their directory infroamtion will not be released.

What are the rights of parents under FERPA?
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.

  • Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution.
  • Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determied that their child is legally their dependent.
  • Parents may also obtain non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their child. NIC requires that the signed consent form either be submitted in person at the Registrar's Office by the student with state/federally issued ID or it may be faxed to the Registrar's Office with a copy of a state/federally issued ID that also includes the student's signature on the ID.


In an emergency, can I tell a student's mother where her daughter's next class is today?

A student's class schedule is non-directory information. For the safety of the student, you cannot tell another person where a student is at any time.

What is the Solomon Amendment?
Under this 1996 amendment, institutions are required to provide directory-type information on students at least 17 years of age who are registered for at least one credit, upon request from the Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes.

May I include a student's GPA in a letter of recommendation?
If personably identifiable information (such as GPA, grades, etc.) obtained from a student's record is included in a letter of recommendation, the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which 1) specifies the records to be disclosed, 2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and 3) identifies the party to whom the disclosure can be made.

Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person's personal knowledge do not require a written release from the student.

Where can I get more information?