Your Rights & Records


Guide to the Release of Student Information
 
Introduction
 

This guide is designed to assist students, faculty and staff with concerns related to information that is collected on students and the release of that information at Auburn University. The information is based on local, state, and federal regulations and policies. The primary goal of these regulations is to protect the privacy of student records and to assist students with obtaining information about their records. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of the Registrar at 334-844-2544.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
 
What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment) is a Federal law that helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides for the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.
 
What rights does FERPA afford students with respect to their education records?

 

  • The right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the day the college receives a request for access.

    Students should submit to the Office of the Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The director will make arrangements for access to and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained in the Office of the Registrar, the director will advise the student of the correct official to whom that request should be addressed.
     
  • The right to request an amendment to the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.

    Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading if they do so within one year of the term in question. They should write the Director of Admissions and Records, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
    If the university decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the university will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing will be provided to the student when notified of a hearing.
     
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
    One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or a person assisting 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 responsibility.
     
  • 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 Ave., SW
    Washington, D.C. 20202-4605

 

 
Who is protected under FERPA?

Students who are currently or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency, are protected. Students who have applied to, but have not attended an institution and deceased students, do not come under FERPA guidelines.
 

Parents of students termed as "dependent" for income tax purposes may have access to the student's education records. A request for the specific records desired along with a copy of the parent's most recent federal income tax return, on which the parents declared the student as dependent, must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar to document "dependency. " The student will be notified of the request made by the parent and allowed adequate time (10 days) to question the request.

 
What are education records?
 
With certain exceptions, an education record is any record

 

  1. From which a student can be personally identified, and 
  2. That is maintained by the University.
A student has the right of access to these records.

Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, magnetic tape, film, diskette, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school at which a student was previously enrolled.

What is not included in an education record?

 

  • Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel;
  • Law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit;
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless contingent upon attendance);
  • Records relating to treatment provide by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment; and
  • Records of an institution that contain information about an individual obtained only after that person is no longer a student at that institution, i.e., alumni records.
  • Financial information submitted by parents.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations placed in students' files prior to January 1, 1975, provided these letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which specifically collected.
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation, placed in students' records after January 1, 1975, to which the student has waived his or her right to inspect and review and that are related to the students' admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors.
  • Education records containing information about more than one student; however, in such cases the institution must permit access to that part of the record which pertains only to the inquiring student.

 

What is directory information?

"Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA if it has designated that information as directory information." At AU this includes the following:

 

  • The student's complete name
  • Local address and associated telephone number
  • Parent/spouse name, address and associated telephone number
  • Mailing address and associated telephone number
  • E-mail address
  • Photographs, video or electronic image
  • Participation in recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
  • Place of Birth

 

Note: A student may designate that any or all of the above listed items be excluded from release as directory information. Contact the Office of the Registrar for further information.

 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
How does a student request their academic transcript ?

The National Student Clearinghouse has been authorized by Auburn University to provide our transcript ordering service via the internet.  Detailed information can be found on the Request Transcripts page.
 
 
How does a student request either enrollment or degree certification?

Any student can request enrollment verification in person within the Office of the Registrar. A picture identification will be required. If the student does not wish to come into the office, he/she can gain access to his/her enrollment information via the internet. Auburn University has an agreement to use the National Student Clearinghouse as an outside agency. The information is available to the student and his/her parents at any time that the internet is available. The utilization of a PIN secures the student information. If there are any FERPA holds, the information will not be available to the student or to any outside party.

Any student can request a degree verification in person within the Office of Admission and Records. A picture identification will be required. If the student does not wish to come into the office, degree verifications are conducted by the outside agency, the National Student Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse will not have access to the student information if there are any transcript holds or if the student has restricted the release of his/her information.
 
Who may have access to student information ?

 

  • The student and any outside party who has the student's written request
  • School officials (as defined by the university) who have "legitimate educational interests"
  • Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code
  • A person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as the university first makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student. Normally, the university will comply with a subpoena after two weeks have elapsed from the day the subpoena was received.

 

When is the student's consent not required to disclose information ?

When the disclosure is:

 

  • To school officials who have legitimate educational interest
  • To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs
  • In connection with financial aid (this includes veteran's benefits)
  • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions
  • To accrediting organizations
  • To parents of a dependent student
  • To comply with a judicial order or subpoena
  • In a health or safety emergency
  • Releasing directory information except as excluded by the student
  • Releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence

 

How does increasing technology impact FERPA on campuses?

The use of computerized record keeping systems is increasing at a fast pace. We can anticipate that the distribution of electronic data eventually will replace most paper documents and provide much information about students to school officials through desktop terminals. It is the responsibility of each school official to understand his or her legal responsibilities under FERPA. The same principles of confidentiality that apply to paper records also apply to electronic data.
 
For more information on Auburn University's policies concerning release of records, please contact the Office of the Registrar.
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