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Students’ Privacy Rights Under FERPA

Hartwell University is in compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, and later laws amending it, such as the Buckley Amendment of 1984.  These laws help protect the privacy of student records. The Act grants students the following four rights: a) the right to inspect and review educational records, b) to seek to amend those records, c) to limit disclosure or information from the records, d) and to file a complaint with the US Department of Education if the preceding three rights have been violated.  

A. Inspection & Review of Records

Official student records are maintained in the Student Records Office; some are also stored electronically in a secure, password-protected online system.  Students and parents of dependent students may request to review official educational records under the following procedure:

  1. The student must provide a written request to review the record.  Parents of dependent students must supply evidence of the income tax dependency of the student if the student does not sign a release.  If the parent provides documentation, the academic advisor and/or instructors will be notified.
  2. An appointment to review the record will be set with the university’s Academic Dean, within 45 days after the day the university receives a request for access.

B. Requesting Amendment of Records

Students have the right to request amendment of education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.

A student who wishes to ask Hartwell University to amend a record should write the Academic Dean, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

If Hartwell University decides not to amend the record as requested, the Academic Dean at Hartwell University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s 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.

C. Limitation of Disclosure

Students have the right to provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without con­sent.

Hartwell University is permitted under FERPA to disclose education records without a student’s prior written consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law en­forcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance com­mittee.  A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the university who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks.  A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educa­tion record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the university.

Hartwell University may disclose information to third parties who are not school officials without violating FERPA if the information has been designated as “directory information.”  

Directory information is information contained in a student’s education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. FERPA requires each institution to define its directory items.

At Hartwell University, directory information has been designated to be the following:

The primary purpose of directory information in the higher education context is to provide enrollment information to employers or other interested parties.

Students have the right to “opt out” of providing directory information.  Requests to limit the release of directory information must be submitted by email to the Student Records Office at registrar@hartwell-education.org by the end of the second week of the semester.  

Before opting out of providing directory information (also known as requesting a “FERPA directory block”), bear in mind that this may make it impossible for employers or other interested parties to verify your dates of attendance at Hartwell University. Lending agencies will still be able to confirm your dates of attendance, however.

Note that federal law allows for several additional circumstances under which PII may be disclosed to third parties without the student’s prior written consent. See the full list at the bottom of this page. In all other circumstances, the university must obtain prior written consent before disclosing non-directory information.

D. Filing a Complaint

If a student believes his/her rights under FERPA were violated, he or she may file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, which administers FERPA, at the following address::

Family Policy Compliance Office

US Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

For further details about your rights under FERPA, please contact the Student Records Office at registrar@hartwell-education.org.

List of Disclosures Postsecondary Institutions May Make Without Consent

FERPA permits the disclosure of PII from students’ education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations.  

Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, §99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the institution to record the disclosure.  Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures.  

Hartwell University may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student –