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Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Notification of Student’s Rights Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, sets forth requirements designed to protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA governs the release of education records and the access to education records. FERPA affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.

FERPA Rights Include

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days after the day the College of DuPage Office of Student Records receives a request for access.

    A student should submit to the Office of Student Records a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The College will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.

  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s 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 College of DuPage to amend a record should write to the Office of Student Records, clearly identify the part of the record they want changes, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If College of DuPage decides not to amend the record as requested, the College will notify the student in writing 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 procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information or PII (not “Directory 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 College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement until personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary grievance committee. A school official may also include a volunteer or contractor outside of College of DuPage who performs an institutional service or 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 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 responsibilities for College of DuPage.

  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by College of DuPage to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-4605

Notice of Public Student Information

Disclosure of Directory Information

The items listed below are designated as “Directory Information” and may be released for any purpose at the discretion of the College. Under provisions of FERPA, you have the right to withhold the disclosure of the “Directory Information” listed below.

Please consider very carefully the consequences of any decision by you to withhold “Directory Information.” Should you decide to inform the College not to release any “Directory Information,” any future requests for such information from non-College persons or organizations will be refused.

The College will honor your request to withhold “Directory Information” listed below, but cannot assume responsibility to contact you for subsequent permission to release it. Regardless of the effect upon you, the College assumes no liability for honoring your instructions that such information be withheld.

 Directory Information consists of the following: Name, community, college-issued email address, previous education institution(s) attended, major field of study, enrollment status, terms and dates of attendance, awards, honors and degrees earned, past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, height and weight of student athletes.

If you wish to withhold this information, complete the “Student Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information” form (known as a FERPA Block) available in the Office of Student Records, SRC 2150. If the form is not received, it is assumed that the above information may be disclosed.

Waiver of Rights under FERPA

Students may elect to waive their rights under FERPA and allow the release of personally identifying information (PII) to a designated person for a specified period of time. This FERPA waiver does not grant permission to your designee to conduct transactions on your behalf, such as ordering a transcript or registering for classes. It allows the College to share information and answer questions related to your education record including but not limited to your class schedule, billing information, final course grades, last date of attendance. This FERPA waiver grants permission to your instructors to discuss your education record with your designee, however it does not compel an instructor to do so.

FERPA Frequently Asked Questions

Students are afforded certain rights to privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, sets forth requirements designed to protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA governs (1) release of education records and (2) student access to education records.

Who is protected under FERPA?

Current or formerly enrolled students (including continuing education students) are protected under FERPA. Students who have applied but have not attended are not protected.

What are education records under FERPA?

Education records are defined as records that are:

  • Directly related to the student, and
  • Maintained by the college or a party acting for the college.

Education records are not:

  • Sole possession records (possessed by the maker only)
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records (unless contingent on attendance)
  • Medical records
  • Post-attendance records

What information cannot be disclosed?

Information that would directly identify the student or make the student’s identity easily traceable is considered non-directory and cannot be disclosed without the student’s written consent:

  • Name of the student in combination with any of the following items
  • Student’s parents or other family member
  • Student or family address
  • Student’s Social Security number, COD ID number or other identifying number
  • Student’s schedule
  • List of personal characteristics (such as gender, race, ethnicity or religion)
  • Grading or attendance information
  • Other information that could make the student’s identity easily traceable
  • Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act and College of DuPage Board Policy 20-15

What information can be disclosed?

Information that is available to the public and can be disclosed without a student’s written consent is considered directory information.

  • Student’s name
  • College-issued email address
  • Student’s community
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Terms attended
  • Enrollment Status (e.g. full or part time)
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Last educational institution attended by the student

Note: Students may request that directory information be withheld by contacting the Office of Student Records (SRC 2150) and completing proper documentation.

To whom can non-directory information be disclosed?

  • To anyone if the college has obtained prior written consent of the student
  • School officials whom the college has determined have a legitimate educational interest
  • Other categories designated by FERPA (list available in the Office of Student Records)

Who is a school official?

  • Employees in the position of an administrator, faculty or staff member
  • Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Company employed by or under contract with the college to perform a special task
  • Student serving on an official committee or assisting another college employee in performing his or her tasks

What is meant by legitimate education interest?

The demonstrated need to know by those college employees who act in the student’s educational interest.

What about communicating with students via electronic modes?

College employees who communicate with a student about the student’s education record through electronic modes, such as phone, fax and the student’s personal e-mail, must be certain that the person with whom they are communicating is the student.

College of DuPage Board Policy 20-15

Is the course management system secure?

Because students must sign on with their COD ID and password, information is secure. Faculty can be assured that when communicating with students using this system, they are in compliance with FERPA.

Can grades be posted using Social Security numbers?

Grades cannot be posted using the whole Social Security number, the last four digits of the Social Security number, or any part of the Social Security number.

What do FERPA and COD say about parents?

  • When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending college, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.
  • Students must appear in person in the Office of Student Records to sign a release form to allow parents access to non-directory information.
  • Parents requesting non-directory information about their student should be referred to the Office of Student Records, SRC 2150. Instructors will be notified if the required documentation is received by the Office of Student Records.

How can privacy violations be avoided?

To avoid violations of FERPA, employees should not:

  • Communicate electronically (fax, phone, e-mail) about non-directory information unless certain that the communication is with the student
  • Link the name of a student with that student’s Social Security number in a public manner
  • Require that students share their phone numbers or e-mail addresses with other students 
  • Leave graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
  • Circulate a printed class list with students’ names, addresses, or Social Security numbers without written consent 
  • Discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents or spouse) without written consent of the student
  • Provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in a class (or classes) for any commercial purposes
  • Provide anyone (except the student) with student schedules or assist anyone other than college employees in finding a student on campus 
  • Leave student information visible to others who might walk into your office or pass by your desk
  • Use personally identifiable information for educational research purposes without getting the proper college authorization

The penalty for noncompliance with federal regulations can be withdrawal of Department of Education funds from the college.

For More information

To request a FERPA Waiver or information on how to block your Director Information, contact Susan Parra at parras895@cod.edu or (630) 942-2431.

For more information on the privacy of student education records, contact Katherine Norris at thompsnk@cod.edu or (630) 942-2620.