The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act provides for the right to inspect and review educational records, to seek to amend those records, and to limit disclosure or information from the records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding under any program administered by the Secretary of Education.
When a student begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. At Fort Lewis College, “attending” starts on the day the student registers for classes. FERPA applies to all students who are currently enrolled (including Continuing Education), or were formerly enrolled, and does not apply to deceased students or persons who have applied but have not attended.
With certain exceptions, an educational record is any record from which a student can be personally identified and maintained by Fort Lewis College or an authorized party.
Educational records include any records in the possession of an employee that are shared with or accessible to another individual. The records may be handwritten, print, magnetic tape, film, diskette, or some other medium. A student has the right to access these records. FERPA does not require that certain records be kept. This is a matter of institutional policy and/or state regulations.
Students do not have access to the financial information of their parents, even though that information is part of the student's educational record.
- Sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel;
- Law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes;
- Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless employment is contingent upon school attendance);
- Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment;
- Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records).
Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA if it has designated the information as “directory information.” At Fort Lewis College, this includes (as defined by the Student Handbook):
- Student’s Name
- Telephone Numbers
- Fort Lewis College E-mail Address
- Date and Place of Birth
- Major and Minor Fields of Study
- Dates of Attendance
- Degree Information (including degree and date conferred, honors, awards information, scholarships and academic awards)
- Class and Enrollment Status
- Participation in Recognized College Activities and Sports
- Most Recent School Attended
Students must be notified annually of what constitutes directory information. Students may, if they desire, request that directory information not be released. Such a request must be submitted in writing to the Registrar's Office by the last day to add classes (Census Date).
- The student and any outside party who has the student’s signed written consent;
- School officials who have a “legitimate educational interest”;
- Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. Parents of students termed “dependent’ for income tax purposes may have access to the students’ educational records. A copy of the parents’ most recent Federal Income Tax form, indicating that the parents declared the student as a dependent, must be submitted to the Registrar's Office to document dependency;
- A person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order. A reasonable attempt to notify the student must be made prior to complying with the subpoena or order.
- Persons employed by Fort Lewis College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position;
- Persons appointed to the Board of Trustees;
- Persons employed by or under contract with Fort Lewis College to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor.
A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is performing or providing a:
- Task that is specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement;
- Task related to a student’s education;
- Task related to the discipline of a student;
- Service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as advising, job placement, financial aid, or housing assistance.
What is NOT "legitimate educational interest"? Legitimate educational interest does not convey inherent rights to any and all student information. The law discriminates between educational interest, and personal or private interest; determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Educational interest does not constitute authority to disclose information to a third party without the student's written permission.
- School officials with a legitimate educational interest;
- Officials of another school in which the student seeks to enroll;
- Certain Federal, State, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state or federally supported educational programs;
- Anyone providing financial aid to the student;
- Agents acting on behalf of Fort Lewis College (clearinghouses, degree/enrollment verifiers);
- Organizations conducting studies on behalf of Fort Lewis College;
- Accrediting organizations;
- Parents of a dependent;
- Parents/legal guardians when their children under age 21 have violated the alcohol or drug policies of Fort Lewis College;
- Compliance with a judicial order or subpoena;
- Appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency;
- The student;
- Results of disciplinary hearings to an alleged victim of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense;
- The Immigration and Naturalization Service for purposes of the Student Exchange Visitor Information System;
- Military recruiters who request “Student Recruiting Information.” Student recruiting information is defined as name, address, telephone listing, age, level of education, and major;
- The Internal Revenue Service in compliance with the Taxpayer Relief Act
- The Department of Veterans Affairs;
- Ex parte orders under the USA Patriot Act.