Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Your Privacy Rights

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly referred to as FERPA, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of your student education records (defined below). The information in your education record is yours, and you have the right view it, request changes to it, and make it confidential. FLC is responsible for protecting your education record. We can only share that information under certain circumstances, which are explained below. Read down for more information about FERPA and the privacy of your education record.

Who is Protected Under FERPA?

FERPA protects all current and former FLC students, including students under the age of 18. Prospective students' records, like application materials, are not protected until they are officially "attending" FLC, which begins on the first day of classes of the student’s first term of enrollment.

Education Records

FERPA only protects "education records", which are records that are directly related to you and maintained by Fort Lewis College or an organization acting for FLC, like the National Student Clearinghouse.

However, not all information about you is considered part of your "education record". The following are not considered "education records":

  • Records about your that are only accessible to the person who made them and are never shared with anyone else
  • Law enforcement records made by the FLC Campus Police for the purpose of law enforcement
  • Employment records, unless they relate to your status as a student (for example, work study records)
  • Records about you that are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in that capacity that are used solely in connection with treatment
  • Records about you that are collected after you are no longer a student

Your Rights

FERPA gives you the right to:

  1. Access and review your education record.
  2. Request corrections or amendments to your education record.
  3. Give your consent for others to access your education record.
    • Release specific information to a person or organization using the Release of Student Record Information form.
    • You can also waive your FERPA privacy rights for a specific person, such as a family member, using the FERPA Waiver form. This will given them access to your entire record.
  4. File a complaint with the Department of Education if you feel that your FERPA rights have been violated.
    • If you believe that FLC, or a representative thereof, has violated your rights under FERPA, you may file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the US Department of Education. For details on that process, please see the Student Privacy Policy Office's File a Complaint website.

Disclosure of Education Record Information

Generally, Fort Lewis College can't disclose your personally identifiable information (PII) or education record to anyone other than you without your prior written consent. However, there are exceptions (FERPA §99.31).

The circumstances under which Fort Lewis College may disclose information from a student's education record without their consent include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • To a school official with a legitimate educational interest (see definitions below);
  • To anyone, in response to a request for directory information (see below);
  • To a parent or legal guardian who claimed the student as a dependent (defined in the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152) on their most recent federal income tax return (the parent or legal guardian requesting access must provide a copy of their previous year's federal income tax return to Fort Lewis College as evidence);
  • To parents/legal guardians when their child/dependent under age 21 has violated the alcohol or drug policies of Fort Lewis College;
  • To US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the purpose of reporting F (academic) nonimmigrant visa holder information for the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), as required by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP).
    • In order for Fort Lewis College to host student visa holders, they are required to report certain information pertaining to students with F visas to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That information is used by the Department of State and the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to monitor participating institutions and students. For more information regarding Fort Lewis College's reporting obligations, please see the SEVP's governing regulations for students and schools (see 8 CFR 214.3(g) Recordkeeping and reporting requirements).
  • To an accrediting organization acting in their accrediting capacity;
  • To officials at another school in which the student is seeking to enroll;
  • To certain federal, state, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state-or federally-supported educational programs;
  • To persons or organizations granting financial aid to the student (does not include any payment made by the student's parent(s) or legal guardian(s); other restrictions apply);
  • Third-party agents acting on behalf of Fort Lewis College (for example: the National Student Clearinghouse);
  • To persons or organizations conducting studies on behalf of Fort Lewis College;
  • To state or federal law enforcement in response to a court order or subpoena (a reasonable attempt to notify the student must be made prior to compliance with the order or subpoena);
  • To appropriate parties in the event of a health or safety emergency, under the conditions described in FERPA §99.36;
  • To recruiters from the US Military who request “Student Recruiting Information” (defined as name, address, telephone listing, age, level of education, and major);
  • To the Internal Revenue Service in compliance with the Taxpayer Relief Act
  • To the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding students receiving VA benefits;
  • To the Attorney General of the United State (or designee) in compliance with an ex parte order under the authority of the USA Patriot Act;
  • To the alleged victim of a crime of violence (including but not limited to sexual offenses) in accordance with the victim's right to know the outcome of the alleged perpetrator's disciplinary hearing pertaining to that crime.

Definition: School Official

A "school official" is defined as:

  • A person employed by Fort Lewis College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position;
  • A person appointed to the Board of Trustees;
  • A person employed by, or under contract with, Fort Lewis College to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor.

Definition: Legitimate Educational Interest

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:

  • Performing a task that is specified in their position description or contract agreement;
  • Performing a task related to a student’s education;
  • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student;
  • Providing a service or benefit relating to a student or a student’s family, such as advising, job placement, financial aid, or housing assistance.

What is NOT a "legitimate educational interest"?

  • Legitimate educational interest does not give a school official the right to any and all student information. Personal/private interests are NOT legitimate educational interests. Educational interest does not imply authority to disclose information to a third party without the student's written permission, unless that third party is acting on the institution's behalf.

Directory Information

Under FERPA, Fort Lewis College may, but is not required to, disclose "directory information" without a student's consent or knowledge.

Students may request confidentiality of their education record, including their directory information, at any time. Please see the next section for details.

At Fort Lewis College, the following is considered "directory information":

  • Student name*
  • Fort Lewis College e-mail address
  • Address (including local mailing, permanent, graduation addresses)
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Photos and videos taken or maintained by the college including Skycard ID picture
  • Hometown (city and state)
  • Major and minor fields of study, concentrations, and certificates
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degree information (including conferral date)
  • College-recognized honors and awards
  • Classification level (e.g. first-year, sophomore, graduate student, post baccalaureate)
  • Enrollment status (full time, half time, and part time, not credit hours)
  • Participation in officially recognized College activities and sports, including the height and weight of athletes
  • Most recent school attended

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although Fort Lewis College has designated the information listed above as directory information, FLC officials disclose only a limited amount of this information on a routine basis. The College retains the right to refuse disclosure of directory information if it believes such disclosure would be an infringement on student privacy rights, or if disclosure would put the student in danger.

*As outlined in College policy, FLC recognizes that some faculty, staff, and students may prefer to use a first name other than their legal name. The College is committed to making every effort to use preferred first names whenever possible in the course of College business and education. This includes, but it is not limited to, the use of preferred first names in email address, directory listings, recognitions, and any printed materials. Please be aware that, when communicating with a third party about a student, it may be necessary to use their legal name, rather than their preferred name.

Confidentiality/Student Record Privacy

Although Fort Lewis College may release directory information, FLC officials disclose only a limited amount of this information on a routine basis. The College retains the right to refuse disclosure of directory information if it believes such disclosure would infringe on student privacy rights, or if disclosure would put the student in danger.

Students may also make their education record completely confidential at any time, should they so choose, using our Confidentiality/Student Record Privacy Request form. Students can also remove a confidentiality restriction at any time. If a student requests that their record remain confidential:

  • FLC officials will not acknowledge that student's connection to campus or the College in any way. For example, if a third party contacts the Registrar's Office inquiring about a student who has requested confidentiality, Registrar's Office staff will refuse to disclose information of any kind about that student, including the fact that they are (or were) a student at all, degree or enrollment information, contact information, and any and all other information contained in the student's education record.
  • FLC officials may still communicate information pertaining to the student and their record to other FLC officials when there is a legitimate educational interest.
  • The student will need to appear in person with a valid photo ID to conduct College business.
    • If the student is not able to come to campus in person, they can still make changes to their record, request the removal of the confidentiality request, and authorize the release of information to particular people or organization. In order to do any of the above, the student will have to either submit a notarized, written, and signed request on which the notary official verifies the student's identity; or request a video conference with the Registrar during which they can show a valid photo ID to verify their identity.
  • Please be aware that the student’s record will remain confidential, even after they graduate or leave FLC, unless that student reverses their request for confidentiality in writing. Reversal requests must be submitted by the student in person, they must be signed, and the student must be able to verify their identity with a valid photo ID. If it is not possible for the student to appear in person, they can submit their request using the process described in the previous bullet.
  • EXCEPTIONS: There are certain circumstances under which FLC must release information about a student who has requested confidentiality. Those exceptions include: in response to requests from federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies; and, "if the school determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals and that a third party needs personally identifiable information (PII) from education records to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals" (US Department of Education).

Parents/Legal Guardians

Now that your student is in college, the best way to find out how they are doing in their classes is to talk with them.

When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a post-secondary institution (e.g. Fort Lewis College), regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent/legal guardian to the student. Fort Lewis College officials will not disclose information from a student's record to their parent(s)/legal guardian(s) in the absence of their student's signed consent.

Fort Lewis College officials reserve the right to refuse to disclose a student's information to a parent/legal guardian, even if the student has signed a FERPA release for them.

Additional Resources:

Questions & Assistance

If you have additional questions or concerns, stop by Skyhawk Station, send us an email, or give us a call at 970-247-7301. We’re here to help!