What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA governs the release of education records and access to education records. The FERPA policy is intended to ensure students have the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to amend their education records as appropriate, and the right to control access to their education records.
Who is Protected Under FERPA?
Current or formerly enrolled students are protected under FERPA. Students who have applied but have not attended Western Governors University (WGU) are not protected. Students are considered to be enrolled and in attendance as of the first day of a term.
What Are Education Records?
Education records are defined as records, files, documents, and other materials in handwriting, print, tape, film, electronic, or other media that contain information that are directly related to a student and are maintained by WGU or a party acting for WGU. Education records do not include post-attendance records, law enforcement records, employment records, medical records and records possessed only by the maker of the records.
What Rights Do Students Have?
Students have the right to: (1) inspect and review their education records, (2) request amendment to their education records, (3) consent to disclosures of non-directory information, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent, and (4) file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by WGU to comply with FERPA requirements.
How Can Students Access Their Records?
Students may access their records by providing a signed, written request to Western Governors University Records office. In addition students may request this information by sending an email to email@example.com from their personal WGU email account. Emails from other locations will not be accepted. The request needs to identify, as precisely as possible, the records the student wishes to inspect. WGU will send copies of records within 45 days. A fee of $.50 per page may be assessed for copying educational records.
How Can Students Amend Their Records?
Students have the right to request that their records be amended if they believe the content is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. Students should write the Registrar identifying the part of the education record they want changed and specifying why it is inaccurate or misleading. Students are sent a response within 30 days of receipt of the written request. If the request is granted, the amendment will be made. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, students have a right to a formal hearing on the matter and will be informed about procedures to request a hearing. Students must make the request for a formal hearing in writing to the Registrar within ten school days of the denial of the request.
Note: The right to challenge grades does not apply under FERPA unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded, under which condition the record will be corrected.
To Whom May Records Be Released without Written Consent?
WGU will disclose information from a student's education records only with the written consent of the student, except in the following cases:
What Is Directory Information?
Student record information is confidential and private. In accordance with both federal law (FERPA) and WGU policy, the University does not release student record information without prior written consent of the student. The one exception to this rule under FERPA is that WGU may release certain "directory information" without prior student consent. Directory information is defined as information which, if disclosed, is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy, however all students may direct the University not to release directory information.
Designated directory information at WGU includes the following:
How Can Students Restrict Disclosure of Directory Information?
Currently enrolled students may request that the University not release any directory information, and the institution must comply with the request. To restrict the release of information, students must complete a FERPA Authorization to Release/Revoke Form, found in the Student Services section on the Student Support tab of the student portal. Directory information is then withheld indefinitely until the Records office receives in writing a revocation of the request for nondisclosure.
Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that restricting this important information will make it unavailable to all, including employers, loan agencies, scholarship committees, University publications and government and licensing agencies. Usually, it is to a student’s advantage to have directory information available to these important constituents.
Where Can I Get More Information About FERPA?
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, D.C., 20202-4605
Where Can I Get a FERPA Form?
FERPA Forms are located in the Student Services section on the Student Support tab of the student portal. To access these forms, log in to your student portal and click the Student Support tab. To access the "FERPA Authorization to Release" click authorize to open the electronic form. If you are having difficulty logging in to your student portal, please contact the EdTech Service Desk.
If you are unable to access the form via your student portal, you may fill out the FERPA form located in the attachments section of this article instead. Please note that if you are utilizing the PDF form you will need to also provide one form of government issued personal identifying information such as a driver’s license or passport, in order to verify the authenticity of your request. The FERPA form and personal identifying information can then be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by postal mail to:
Western Governors University
Office of the Registrar
4001 S 700 E Ste 700
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Article Number: 20495, 1161