Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted by the United States Congress in 1974. The Act sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of learner records. FERPA governs:
- The release of these records (known as education records) maintained by an educational institution
- Access to these records. This law applies to secondary (K-12) and postsecondary education.
Who must comply with FERPA?
Any educational institution or educational agency that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
What does FERPA require from colleges to be in compliance?
- Notify learners annually regarding their rights under FERPA. Nightingale College provides FERPA notice in the catalog, on the website, and via learner email.
- Protect learners’ rights to inspect and review their educational records.
- Protect learners’ rights to request to amend their education records.
- Protect learners’ right to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information (except under a few circumstances).
Who has FERPA rights at the postsecondary level?
A learner in attendance (regardless of age) and former learners.
To be considered in attendance at Nightingale College the learner must have done one of the following:
- learner submission of an academic assignment
- learner submission of an exam
- documented learner participation in an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction
- a posting by the learner showing the learner’s participation in an online study group that is assigned by the institution
- a posting by the learner in a discussion forum showing the learner’s participation in an online discussion about academic matters
- an e-mail from the learner or other documentation showing that the learner initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course
- Learner attendance at a required clinical, lab, or simulation
What FERPA rights are given to learners?
- The right to inspect and review the learner’s education records within forty-five (45) days of the day the College receives the request;
- The right to request amendments to the learner’s education records that the learner believes are inaccurate;
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the learner’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent;
- The right to prevent disclosure of directory information;
- The right to be annually reminded about his/her rights under FERPA; and
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
What are education records under FERPA?
Educational records are defined as records that directly relate to a learner and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a third-party acting on behalf of that institution. Such records may include written documents (including learner advising folders), computer media, video or audio tapes, CDs, film, photographs, or any other record that contains personally identifiable information that is directly related to the learner such as learner files, learner system databases, and learner projects.
What is required for Prior Written Consent?
Prior written consent is required before the College can disclose any non-directory information.
Prior written consent is not required when the disclosure is made directly to the learner or to other school officials within the same institution when there is a legitimate educational reason. A legitimate educational reason may include enrollment or transfer matters, financial aid issues, information requested by governmental or accrediting agencies, and third-party financial aid processors.
Prior written consent is not required to disclose non-directory information when the health and safety of the learners are in jeopardy, or when complying with a judicial order or subpoena, or where, as a result of a crime of violence, a disciplinary hearing is conducted by the College, a final decision was recorded, and the alleged victims seeks disclosure.
Some information in a learner’s educational record is defined as directory information under FERPA. The College may disclose this type of information without the written consent of the learner. However, the learner can make a formal written request to restrict the release of directory information.
Nightingale College has designated the following student information as directory information (personally identifiable information) that it may disclose to the public without the consent of the learner:
- Email Address
- Telephone Number
- Major (program of study)
- Dates of attendance
- Degree(s) received
- Full-time/Part-time status
- Honors Received
Non-directory information will not be released to anyone, including parents of the learner, without the prior written consent of the learner. Faculty and staff can access non-directory information only if they have a legitimate academic need to do so.
Nightingale College has designated the following student information as non-directory information:
- Social Security Numbers
- Learner Identification Numbers
- Grade Reports
What are education records?
- Records — handwriting, print, computer, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche or e-mail – of an institution that
- Contain information directly related to the learner and
- Are maintained by an agency or institution or party acting in its behalf.
- Education records do not include
- Records/notes in sole possession of maker not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute
- Medical records
- Employment records when employment is not contingent on being a learner, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual’s employment
- Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose, is revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records
- Information on a person that was obtained when no longer a learner (i.e., alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a learner