Policy on Access to Student Records under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
September 16, 2019
On this page
- Scope of FERPA
- Student Rights
- Disclosure to Others
- Directory Information
- Release with Student Consent
Scope of FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords Wheaton College (the “College”) students certain rights with respect to their Education Records. The term “Education Records” means those records that are:
- directly related to a student; and
- maintained by the College or by a party acting for the College.
Generally, Education Records of a student will be maintained by the Office of Registrar (the “Registrar”), the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, the Office of Student Financial Services, the Dean of Students Office and the department of the student’s major field of study.
The term “Education Records” does not include:
- Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
- Records of the law enforcement unit of the College that are created for a law enforcement unit and law enforcement purpose.
- Records relating to an individual who is employed by the College, that:
- are made and maintained in the normal course of business;
- relate exclusively to the individual in that individual’s capacity as an employee; and
- are not available for use for any other purpose. (Records relating to an individual in attendance at the College who is employed as a result of their status as a student are education records.)
- Records on a student who is 18 years of age or older, or is attending the College, that are:
- Made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity;
- Made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student; and
- Disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment. For the purpose of this definition, “treatment” does not include remedial educational activities or activities that are part of the program of instruction at the College.
- Records created or received by the College after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and that are not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student.
- Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher.
Student rights with respect to Education Records include:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s Education Records within 45 days after the day the College receives a request for access. To request access, a student should submit to the Registrar a written request that identifies the Education Record(s) the student wishes to inspect. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar, it will coordinate with other College offices as necessary to make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
- A student will ordinarily not be provided with copies of any part of the student’s record other than the transcript, unless the inability to obtain copies would effectively prevent the student from exercising the right to inspect and review the student’s education records. In cases where copies will be provided, the department or office of the College maintaining the record in question may impose a charge for making such copies at such uniform rates as it shall determine.
- In general, a student may have access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation which have been generated since the student’s matriculation at the College and which are part of the student’s education records. This right, however, does not apply to such letters and statements placed in the student’s education records prior to January 1, 1975, if such letters and statements are not used for purposes other than those for which they were specifically intended. A student may, by signing a written waiver, relinquish the student’s right to inspect confidential recommendations placed in the student’s education records on or after January 1, 1975, respecting (1) admission to any educational institution; (2) an application for employment; or (3) the receipt of an honor or honorary recognition. In no case will any student be required by the College to waive a right to access of confidential recommendations.The right to request amendment of the student’s Education Records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the College to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identifying the part of the record the student wants changed and specify why it should be changed. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College 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.
- The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information (“PII”) from the student’s Education Records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The College discloses Education Records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to College officials with legitimate educational interests. College officials typically include persons employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); persons serving on the board of trustees; or students serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A College official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the College who performs an institutional service of function for which the College would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the College 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 College official in performing his or her tasks. A College official typically 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 College.
- 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. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Disclosure to Others
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: (1) disclosures to College officials; (2) disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas; (3) disclosures of directory information; and (4) disclosures to the student, § 99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the College to record the disclosure. Students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures.
Subject to the conditions and exceptions of § 99.33 of FERPA, the College may disclose PII from the Education Record only on the condition that the party to whom the information is disclosed will not disclose the information to any other party without the prior consent of the student.
The College may, without obtaining prior written consent of students, disclose information from Education Records, including PII:
- To other College officials, including teachers, within the College who the College has determined to have legitimate educational interests. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the College has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in § 99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) – (a)(1)(i)(B)(3) are met. (§ 99.31(a)(1))
- To officials of another institution where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. Subject to the requirements of § 99.34. (§ 99.31(a)(2)). The College will forward such records on request or when the disclosure is initiated by the student. However, with regard to disciplinary matters, the College will disclose only information related to discipline for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety or well-being of that student, other students, or other members of the College community.
- To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf. (§§ 99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
- In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid. (§ 99.31(a)(4))
- To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the College, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction. (§ 99.31(a)(6))
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions. (§ 99.31(a)(7))
- To parents of a student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes (§ 99.31(a)(8)) and where a serious circumstance warrants parental notification, such circumstances may include a health or safety emergency; an action taken by the College Committee on Academic Standing; an action taken by the Office of the Dean of Students or College Hearing Board; or the receipt of an award.
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. (§ 99.31(a)(9))
- To appropriate parties, including parents, in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to § 99.36. (§ 99.31(a)(10))
- To third parties when the information shared has been designated by the College as “directory information” under § 99.37. (§ 99.31(a)(11))
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of § 99.39. The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding. (§ 99.31(a)(13))
- To the general public the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of § 99.39, if the College determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the College’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§ 99.31(a)(14)) The College maintains the discretion to disclose such information and will evaluate whether or not to do so on a case-by-case basis.
- To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the College, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the College determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))
The College may release “directory information” with respect to a student without the student’s consent. The College is required to give notice of the categories of information which it will treat as “directory information.” Accordingly, the College hereby gives notice that it has designated the following categories of information as directory information with respect to each student:
- name, local and permanent address, and telephone listing;
- date and place of birth;
- major field of study;
- participation in officially recognized activities and sports;
- weight and height of members of athletic teams;
- photographic and digital images;
- dates of attendance at Wheaton;
- degrees conferred, awards received, other honors and their dates; and
- other educational institutions attended.
A student in attendance at the College has the right to have directory information withheld from the public if they so desire. Each student who wants all directory information to be withheld shall so indicate by completing a form which can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar. It is important to note that such requests must be made within the first 15 days of any semester.
Release with Student Consent
Upon written consent or request by a student, the College may release information from the student’s Education Record to third parties. A student should submit to the Registrar a written request that identifies the Education Record(s) the student wishes to transfer. If the records are not maintained by the Registrar, it will coordinate with other College offices as necessary to make arrangements for release. The College may impose a charge for copying a student’s records in connection with such a release.