Do you know about your educational privacy?
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) , higher education institutions are limited in the information they can reveal about students.
FERPA also grants students certain rights, including the right to keep their educational records private. Because it is important that you know and understand the rights granted to you by FERPA, The University of Akron has drafted this document as a way of informing you about your FERPA rights. For more detailed information, please consult the University’s rule 3359-11-08 on Policies and procedure for student records.
To assist students in requesting student records the University has created an Authorization and Request for Release of Records and Information form. Additional information regarding FERPA can be found at the Family Policy Compliance Office website within the Department of Education.
FERPA grants the following rights to students:
1. The right to inspect and review their educational records. Students are encouraged to inspect and review their educational records each year. To inspect and review educational records, students should first submit a written request to the FERPA coordinator listed below. For information about how to request an opportunity to inspect or review educational records, please see “How may I obtain permission to inspect or review my education records?” below.
2. The right to request an amendment of their educational records that they believe to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights. If students believe the records contained within their educational record are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights, they may challenge the content of their educational record. For information about requesting an amendment to education records, please see “How may I request an amendment of my education records?” below.
3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained within the student’s education records, with limited exceptions. The University may, unless the student requests otherwise, release directory information without the student’s consent. For more information about directory information, please see “What is ‘directory information’ at The University of Akron?” below. The University may release education records in a few other limited circumstances as well. For information about these exceptions, please see “Under what other circumstances might the University release education records without student consent?” below.
4. File a complaint with the Department of Education if the student believes the University has failed to comply with FERPA’s requirements. Students who believe that the University is violating FERPA or the University’s Policies and procedure for student records should file a complaint with the FERPA coordinator listed below. If the student still believes that the University is violating FERPA and is not satisfied with the University’s response to the complaint, the student may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Students who wish to file a complaint may obtain the U.S. Department of Education’s address for complaints from the FERPA coordinator.
Answers to your questions about FERPA
Are my educational records private?
The University respects students’ interest in their educational records. Therefore, the University limits access to those records except where access is authorized by law or by the student. Examples of such instances include the disclosure of directory information, disclosure at a student’s request, to a University official with a legitimate educational interest or in other limited circumstances. For more information about the situations in which the University is authorized to release student records, please continue reading.
How may I obtain permission to inspect or review my education records?
To inspect and review educational records, students should first submit a written request to the FERPA coordinator listed below. The request should identify, as accurately as possible, the types of records the student wishes to inspect and review in a manner that will make it possible for the FERPA coordinator to locate the records and make them available. The FERPA coordinator will make arrangements with the student for the inspection, which will occur as soon as possible, but in no case later than forty-five calendar days from receipt of the student’s request. The University may refuse to allow the student to inspect the student’s parent’s financial statements, statements and records of recommendation prepared by university officials or submitted with the student’s application for admission which were placed in the student’s records before January 1, 1975 or to which the student has waived his or her right of access in writing, and records that are excluded from the definition of educational records in the University’s Policies and procedure for student records. Where the University provides a student with a copy of all or part of his or her educational records, the University will charge four cents per page for duplication and a mailing charge, if applicable.
How may I request an amendment to my education records?
Students should first attempt to resolve the issue by discussing it informally with the records custodian. If the records custodian cannot change the record to the requestor’s satisfaction of or if the record is not obviously incorrect, the records custodian will provide a free copy of the record to the requesting student and ask that the student file a written request to challenge the record. The student’s request for a change should be in a writing that identifies the record the student believes to be incorrect and indicate if it is inaccurate, misleading or violates the student’s privacy rights and if so, why. Before forwarding the written request to the FERPA coordinator, the records custodian will add material to support the refusal to change the record.
The FERPA coordinator will then review the request, discuss it with appropriate University officials, summarize his or her findings, make a recommendation, and forward all the related materials to the University’s president or designee. The President will advise the FERPA coordinator whether or not to make the change. If the President agrees to the change, the FERPA coordinator will instruct the appropriate individuals to make the change. If the President does not agree to the change, the FERPA coordinator will notify the student in writing of the decision and the reason for it, as well as the student’s right to request a hearing or to include an explanatory statement in the record detailing why the student believes the record is incorrect.
What if my request to amend my education records is denied by the President?
If the President does not agree to the change, the FERPA coordinator will notify the student in writing of the decision and the reason for it, as well as the student’s right to request a hearing or to include an explanatory statement in the record detailing why the student believes the record is incorrect.
If the student requests a hearing, the president or his or her designee will appoint a hearing officer and the FERPA coordinator will arrange a time and location for the hearing and notify the student. Two weeks after the hearing, or sooner if possible, the hearing officer will provide a summary of the evidence from the hearing and a recommendation based upon the hearing to the President. The President will notify the FERPA coordinator of the University’s decision, and, if appropriate, the FERPA coordinator will direct the proper officials to make the change. Regardless of the University’s decision, the FERPA coordinator will notify the student of the University’s decision. If the University elects not to make the change, the FERPA coordinator will provide the student with a written summary of the evidence presented at the hearing and the reasons for the University’s decision and inform the student of the right to include a statement in the record explaining why he or she believes it is incorrect.
What is “directory information” at The University of Akron?
At The University of Akron directory information includes: student name, telephone number, mailing address, major field of study, extracurricular participation, achievements and academic awards or honors, photographs, years of attendance and terms enrolled, and the height and weight of members of athletic teams.
Under what other circumstances might the University release education records without student consent?
The University may also release education records without student consent in the following circumstances: at the student’s request, in connection with a student’s request for financial aid to determine eligibility, amount or conditions of the aid or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid, to organizations conducting certain studies for or on the University’s behalf, to accrediting agencies for accreditation purposes, to the student’s parents where the parents claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes, to comply with a lawfully issued court order or subpoena, to appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency, where required by Ohio law adopted before November 19, 1974, to an alleged victim of a crime of violence (results of university disciplinary proceedings against the student as the alleged perpetrator only), to appropriate government officials in connection with certain state or federally supported education programs only. For further information about disclosures that may be made without a student’s consent, please see the University’s Policies and procedure for student records.
What University employees may view my education records?
Only University officials who have a legitimate educational interest may view a student’s education records. The University of Akron defines a University official as a person employed by the University in an academic, administrative, support, supervisory, or research or support staff position, a person appointed or elected to the Board of Trustees, or a person employed by or under contract to the University to perform a special task. A University official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is performing a task specified in his or her position description or contract agreement, performing a task related to the student’s education, performing a task related to the student’s discipline, or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.
What do I need to do if I want The University of Akron to provide a copy of my education records to a third party?
Federal regulations (34 C.F.R. 99.30) state that students who wish the University to provide a copy of their education records, in whole or in part, to a third party must consent to the release of records in a signed and dated writing that specifies the person(s) to whom the records should be released, the records to be released, and the purpose of the release. A writing of this nature may be required before the University may provide a copy of student records to the student’s parents or a potential employer. For your convenience, The University of Akron has created an Authorization and Request for Release of Records and Information formfor this purpose. Students may use the University's authorization form or draft their own writing.
Who is the University’s FERPA Coordinator?
The University of Akron’s FERPA Coordinator is the University Registrar, whose office is in Simmons Hall and whose phone number is 330-972-5800.