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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (1974) 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.

We cannot discuss student information with a parent/spouse/child/guardian/etc. without the student's consent. A student can sign and submit a Consent for Release of Student Information form to identify an individual. This release form is only for information release; and the authorized individual cannot make changes to the student's record. 

​​​FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's K-12 education records. These rights transfer to the student when they reach the age of 18 or attend a school beyond the high-school level. 

  • Authorization for Release of Information
    When you mail or email the Consent for Release of Student Information form, please include a photocopy of your driver's license, state-issued ID, or another form of picture ID that includes your signature on the ID

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 student without written permission from the student.

Students are defined as those individuals who have submitted an application. All admission records are then "folded into" the education 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.

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 interest 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.

The term “directory information” at North Idaho College is defined as including:

  1. Student’s name
  2. Student’s address
  3. Student’s phone number
  4. Email address
  5. Dates of attendance
  6. Freshman/sophomore classification
  7. Previous institutions attended
  8. Major field of study
  9. Awards/honors (including Dean’s List)
  10. Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
  11. Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  12. Weight and height of members of athletics teams

Students may request through the Registrar’s Office that the college not release directory information.

The Registrar’s Office will assist students who want to inspect their records. Records covered by FERPA will be made available within 45 days and the college may charge reasonable fees for preparing copies for students. This includes records that are kept in the following offices:

  1. Admissions
  2. Registrar
  3. Financial Aid
  4. Veterans Services
  5. Student Activities
  6. Intercollegiate Athletics
  7. Vice President for Student Services

The college reserves the right to have a college representative present during the review of the student’s record and the representative may offer interpretation of the data within the record.

Some records may be withheld by the college. For example, academic transcripts are routinely withheld if the student has a financial obligation to the college. Medical records may be released to the student’s physician rather than to the student. Students may not inspect financial information submitted by their parents, confidential letters associated with admissions and records to which they have waived their inspection rights. In the event a record contains information about other persons, the college will release only the portion of the record that pertains to the student.

Finally, the college will not release records that are not owned by the college.

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.

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 information will not be released.

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 determined 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.

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.

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.

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.

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