The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA – 20 USC § 1232G; 34 CFR Part 99) 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 US Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents/legal guardians certain rights with respect to their children’s educational records. These rights transfer to the student when s/he reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students”. (Jackson State University defines “attends a postsecondary institution” as the first day of classes of the student’s start term; applicants who do not become students have no FERPA rights).
Definition of Education Records, School Official and Legitimate Educational Interest
Educational records are defined as records, files, documents and other material which contains information directly related to a student. Educational records do not include personal files of faculty and staff, law enforcement records, or parent’s financial records. Nothing in FERPA prohibits a University official from sharing information that is based on that official’s personal knowledge or observation and that is not based on information contained in an educational record.
A “school official” includes any person employed by the University to fulfill the University’s mission, such as, but not limited to, faculty, administrators, staff, counselors and health and safety personnel; people or companies contracted with the University such as, but not limited to, an attorney, auditor, consultant or collection agent; or a student serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing his/her official tasks.
A school official generally has a “legitimate educational interest” if that official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities as described in his/her job description.
As custodians of student records in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, amended in 1998, the university assumes the trust and obligation to ensure the full protection of student records which includes maintaining the confidentiality of educational records. The university has developed policy guidelines for access to educational records with respect to the rights of eligible students and parents of dependent eligible students. Educational records maintained by the university are considered confidential, except for directory information and information that is exempt from the need for consent.
University personnel who have educational records in a personally identifiable form must comply with the administrative procedures outlined in this section.
Students may direct questions regarding FERPA and the regulations to the Registrar or the Dean of Students.
*Concerning student-athletes: It has been determined, via the need-to-know element within FERPA, that the Athletic Events & Compliance Coordinator can receive information regarding all conduct matters involving student-athletes.
Directory Information is information concerning a student that may be disclosed at the discretion of Jackson State University. If information is approved for release, it may be shared through verbal, printed, electronic or other form, without prior consent. The university includes the following as Directory Information:
The following list includes situations where information in a student’s educational record may be released to a third party without consent of the student.
If educational records are released in situations where prior consent is not needed and a student may not be aware of the release, a reasonable attempt will be made to notify a student of what information was released and to whom it was released.
Students have the following rights regarding directory information and educational records:
Right to inspect and review educational records, excluding financial aid records of the student’s parents or guardian, confidential letters of recommendation where a student signed a waiver of right-of-access, or letters of recommendation written prior to January 1, 1975.
The university does not maintain a central repository for student records. Inquiries for access to specific educational records should be made to the University office or agency responsible for a particular record. Assistance in determining the location of individual educational records may be obtained in the Office of the University Registrar.
If a student contests certain information contained in a specific record, he or she may seek to have the particular record amended. To do so, the student must request the amendment in writing, to the office that maintains the particular record. The request does not guarantee that the amendment will be granted.
A student may give a university official or office permission, to release verbally or in writing, educational records to a third party. (Some copies of educational records may not be released to a third party. Such records are determined through the office maintaining the records.)
There are general rights students have under FERPA that are entailed in this section such as having the choice to release information to certain third parties, requesting that directory information not be made public, etc.
A student may sign a waiver of right-of-access to confidential recommendations concerning admission, application for employment, references, and/or application for an honor or honorary recognition.
A student has 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.
Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-4605
*FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and Use
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent.
First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal‐ or state‐supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.
Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use‐restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.
In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and student records systems.