Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

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 Govenors 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. The request should 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:

 

  • To the Student
  • To anyone if the University has obtained the prior written consent of the student (the FERPA Authorization to Release form can be found in the Student Services section on the Student Support tab of the student portal)
  • To anyone in response to requests for directory information (see below)
  • To University employees who have a legitimate educational interest in the records
  • To officials from other colleges or universities in which a student seeks or intends to enroll
  • To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, and Department of Veterans Affairs in connection with certain state or federally supported education or assistance programs
  • To agencies or individuals requesting information in connection with a student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid
  • To agents acting on behalf of the University (e.g., clearinghouses, degree/enrollment verifiers)
  • To third-party service providers under contract to provide educational services to the University
  • To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the University
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions
  • To parents/legal guardians when their children (under age 21) are found to have violated the alcohol or drug policy of the institution (Warner Amendment)
  • To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
  • To an alleged victim of any crime of violence or the results of a disciplinary action regarding the alleged perpetrator of that crime with respect to that crime
  • To anyone requesting the final results of a disciplinary hearing against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (Foley Amendment)
  • To the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for purposes of the Coordinated Interagency Partnership Regulating International Students (CIPRIS)
  • To military recruiters who request "Student Recruiting Information” for recruiting purposes only (Solomon Amendment). Student Recruiting Information is name, address, telephone listing, age (or year of birth), level of education, and major (conditions exist).
  • To the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for purposes of complying with the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
  • To appropriate parties to protect the health and safety of students and other persons or to assist in resolving an emergency


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:

 

  • Student Name
  • City/town and state/province of residence
  • Class level
  • Enrollment status (full-time, part-time, or not enrolled) and current status
  • Program of study
  • Degrees and/or certificates earned including date of conferral
  • Dates of attendance
  • Awards and honors


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
http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html

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. The "FERPA Authorization/Removal Form" can be found in the Student Services section on the Student Support tab. If you are having difficulty logging in to your student portal, please contact the IT Help 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 two forms of government issued personal identifying information such as a driver’s license, passport or social security card, in order to verify the authenticity of your request. The FERPA form and personal identifying information can then be sent via email to records@wgu.edu, faxed to (801)906-5108, 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

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