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Definition of the Law

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy and accessibility rights of eligible students enrolled in a postsecondary institution in relation to their education records. 

  • “Eligible student” is defined as a student 18 years of age or older, or a student who enters a postsecondary institution at any age.
     
  • “Education record” is defined as those records that contain information directly related to the student and that are maintained by the educational institution.

Specific FERPA Rights

The law provides eligible students with specific rights under FERPA:

  • The right to inspect and review information contained in their education records within 45 days after the institution receives the request
     
  • The right to challenge the contents of their education records, which are believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA
     
  • The right to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory
     
  • The right to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel that the decisions of the hearing panel are unacceptable
     
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington DC 20202) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with FERPA requirements
     
  • The right to provide written consent prior to the institution disclosing personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent 

Limitations for Record Review

Students may not inspect and review the following:

  • Education records of other students, even if they are contained within the same record of the student requesting the review
     
  • Financial information, including parental records
     
  • Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment, or academic honors

Directory Information

FERPA permits the release of some general student information known as “directory information” without written approval of students.

Sandhills Community College considers the following directory information:

  • The student’s name
  • City and county of residence
  • Photograph
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Dates of attendance
  • Grade level
  • Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • The most recent educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Student email address

Students who do not want any or all of this information released to the general public must sign a request form in the Office of Records and Registration no later than two (2) weeks after the first day of class each semester.

Third Parties Exempt from Consent Requirements

The College does not provide access to or disclose a student’s education records to third parties without the student’s written consent except in cases of:

  • Authorized personnel within the institution, including administrators, faculty, and staff members  with legitimate educational interest seeking to fulfill their job responsibilities
     
  • Authorized officials of other institutions in which student seeks to enroll
     
  • Persons or organizations providing the student financial aid
     
  • Accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function
     
  • Persons involved in an emergency situation in order to protect the health or safety of students or of other persons
     
  • Persons in compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
     
  • Federal, state and local authorities involved in the audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs,
     
  • Organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the institution
     
  • Parents of a dependent student as defined by the IRS for tax purposes
     
  • Directory information being released
     
  • An alleged victim of a violent crime or non-forcible sex offence, to whom the results of a disciplinary hearing may be disclosed
     
  • Parents of a student related to the student’s violation of any Federal, State, local or institutional law or policy regarding the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substance if the student perpetrated a disciplinary violation, as determined by the institution, and the student is under the age of 21 years of age

Personnel Contact Information

  • The Director of Records and Registration directs the procedures for students interested in inspecting or reviewing their education records and for students who do not want their directory information released by the institution
     
  • The Dean of Student Services has been designated by the College to consider and coordinate inspection and review requests from third parties for students’ educational records
     
  • The Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Student Services oversees the process and maintains the records of FERPA release forms for eligible students 

 

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