The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as Amended established a set of regulations governing access to and the release of personal and academic information contained in student education records. FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance in postsecondary institutions, including students in cooperative or correspondence study programs. FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for admission who have been denied acceptance or, if accepted, do not attend an institution.
Education records are all records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution, or a party acting for the institution. Exceptions to education records include sole possession records, law enforcement unit records, employment records, health records and alumni records. Rights under FERPA are not given to students enrolled in one component of an institution who seek to be admitted in another component of the institution. It is in violation of FERPA to use a social security number provided by a third party to verify or match data in student records and provide that data to the third party without the student’s written consent.
Under FERPA, the rights accorded to parents transfer to students who have reached the age of 18 or who attend a postsecondary institution. These rights are:
- The right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the day the university receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic unit or another appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The university official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the university official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be made.
- The right to request amendment of the student’s education records the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. A student should write the university official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want to be changed and why it is felt to be inaccurate or misleading.
FERPA was not intended to provide a process to be used to question substantive judgments that are correctly recorded. The rights of a challenge are not intended to allow students to contest, for example, a grade in a course because they felt a higher grade should have been assigned.
If the university decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the university will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- The right to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. 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; and a person or a company with whom the university has contracted, such as attorney, auditor or collection agent (includes consultants, volunteers and other non-employees performing institutional services and functions). A school official has a legitimate interest, if the official needs to review the educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities to the university.
Disclosure is defined as permitting access to or the release, transfer or other communication of the educational records of a student or the personally identifiable information contained therein to any party orally, in writing, by electronic means or by any other means. Disclosure of confidential information to a school official having a legitimate educational interest does not constitute authorization to share that information with a third party without the student’s written permission.
FERPA allows release of the following directory information to the public without student consent: student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field(s) of study, email address, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletic team members, dates of attendance, part-time or full-time status, degrees and awards/ honors received and the most recent educational institution attended other than Florida Tech.
Students may prevent the release of directory information by completing a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information form available online and from the Office of the Registrar. By law, however, a student cannot prevent the release of directory information to the U.S. military for recruiting purposes. Student consent is required for the release of personally identifiable information such as semester grades, academic record, current academic standing, class schedules and Social Security/student number.
Student consent is not legally required for disclosure of this information to certain government agencies/ officials, sponsoring agencies and to selected university personnel determined to have a legitimate educational interest in such records. Reports of alcohol or drug policy violations by students under the age of 21 may also be released to those entities. The university may exercise discretion in releasing personally identifiable information.
Students may consent to release personally identifiable information to others by completing the Authorization for Release of Student Information form available online and from the registrar’s office.
Information about the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended and the full text of the law may be obtained from the registrar’s office.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Florida Tech to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is Family Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Ave., SW Washington, DC 20202-4605.
The Solomon Amendment established guidelines for the release of directory information to the United States military for recruiting purposes. This Congressional act allows release of the following directory information without student consent to military recruiters for present and previously enrolled students at least 17 years of age: student name, address, date and place of birth, telephone number, level of education, major field(s) of study, degrees received and the educational institution in which the student was most recently enrolled.
Student Right to Know
Florida Institute of Technology is in compliance with both the Student Right to Know Act of 1990 and the Campus Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990.
The Office of Security and Safety keeps statistics on compliance with the act. These statistics are updated annually and can be found at www.fit.edu/security/crime_stats.php. They are also available upon request to other interested parties.
Information on Florida Tech’s six-year graduation rate can be found at https://www.fit.edu/security/.