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Policy Information

Date Established: 11/17/2014
Date Last Updated: 12/03/2015
Category: Academic
Responsible Office:
University Life and Services
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for University Life and Services

Policy Contents

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Access to Student Information

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Summary

The University at Buffalo is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of student educational records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

Policy Statement

The University at Buffalo (UB, university) is committed to the protection and confidentiality of student educational records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

FERPA gives students the right to:

  • inspect and review their own educational records
  • control the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
  • request the amendment of their educational records if they believe the records are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights under FERPA, and if necessary, to have a hearing on this issue
  • file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the United States Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university to comply with FERPA requirements.

Background

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) gives students the right to inspect and review their educational records and, under certain circumstances, the right to request that such records be amended. FERPA limits the right of the university to disclose educational records or information contained in such records without the student’s consent. FERPA also requires that the university notify students, on an annual basis, of their rights under FERPA.

Applicability

This policy applies to all individuals with access to educational records maintained by the university and the protected rights of students regarding the release of such records.

Definitions

Attendance

Includes, but is not limited to, attendance in person; attendance via correspondence, videoconference, satellite, internet, or other telecommunication technology used by students who are not physically present in the classroom; and participation in a work-study program.

Educational Records

Defined by FERPA as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by the university or by a party acting on behalf of the university. This includes, but is not limited to, transcripts, papers, exams, student databases, class schedules, financial records, correspondence, email, and handwritten notations. Educational records may be maintained in any medium. Educational records do not include law enforcement or physician treatment records that may be protected by other laws or regulations.

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records.

Legitimate Educational Interest

A University Official has a legitimate educational interest if the official requires the information for the purpose of fulfilling his official duties, including but not limited to:

·  performing a task that is specified in his/her 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 the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid

·  maintaining the safety and security of the campus

·  participating in or conducting studies, evaluations, or assessments of educational programs.

Parent

A parent of a student and includes a natural parent, guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.

Personally Identifiable Information

Information contained in an educational record that identifies or describes a student, including but not limited to, student name, name of a student’s parent or other family members, address of a student or student’s family, any personal identifier such as a student’s social security number or identification number, person number, or any personal characteristics or other information that would make a student’s identity easily traceable.

Personally identifiable information is divided into two categories:

Directory Information – student information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. UB has designated the following as directory information: student name, current address, telephone number, email address, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees, and awards received.

Confidential Information – student information that may not be disclosed without the prior consent of the student to whom the information pertains, including directory information that the student designates as non-disclosable.

Student

An individual who has reached 18 years of age or is attending a postsecondary institution at any age and for whom the institution maintains education records.

University Official 

A University Official is a:

·  person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, advising, research, or support position, including law enforcement, health, and medical staff

·  person employed by the State University of New York (SUNY) System Administration

·  contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other outside party providing services or functions to the campus which would otherwise be provided by employees of the campus

·  person serving on the UB Council

·  student serving on an official committee (e.g., disciplinary, grievance), or assisting a school official in performing his/her tasks.

Responsibility

University Officials Who Maintain or Access Educational Records

  • Maintain and release educational records in accordance with FERPA and this policy.

Office of Financial Aid

  • Annually distribute the Consumer Information pertaining to student rights under FERPA.

Office of Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy

  • Conduct hearings to determine whether alleged errors in educational records are misleading, inaccurate, or in violation of the student’s FERPA rights.

Student

  • Read the annually provided Consumer Information pertaining to FERPA.

University Registrar

  • Manage the process by which students designate non-disclosure of their directory information.

Procedure

Inspection of Educational records

Students have the right to inspect and review their educational records.

  • Students should submit a written request to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy; the request must identify the record(s) they wish to inspect.
  • The appropriate University Official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
  • If the records are not maintained by the University Official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  • Access must be provided within 45 days of receiving the request.

Disclosure of Educational records

Students have the right to control the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. Under FERPA, the university may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s educational records to a third party unless the student has provided written consent.

FERPA allows the university to disclose personally identifiable information from educational records without the student’s consent as follows:

  • When the information is appropriately designated as directory information (i.e., student name, current address, telephone number, email address, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees, and awards received). Student name, email address, and major field of study are published in the university Internet directory. As educationally required, directory information may be made available to classmates in a specific class.

·  If a student does not want their directory information released, they must complete the Request for Directory and Information Release/Non-Release form, and submit the form to the Office of the Registrar.

·  A student may reverse their directory information release decision at any time.

·  The university does not supply directory information in support of commercial activities. However, under the Solomon Amendment, the university must release directory information that has not been designated non-releasable by the student when requested by the United States military.

  • To a University Official with a legitimate educational interest (i.e., the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility).
  • To appropriate parties, including parents (even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent), in connection with a health or safety emergency.
  • To the parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the university, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. The university may non-consensually disclose information under this exception if it is determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and the student is under 21 years of age at the time of the disclosure to the parent.
  • To the parents of a “dependent student” as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • To persons or organizations providing financial aid to students.
  • To officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

FERPA contains several additional narrow exceptions to the requirement of obtaining a student’s consent before disclosing information from educational records. A unique set of conditions delineated in FERPA applies to each type of disclosure. 

Amendment of Educational Records

Students have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

  • Students should write to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy, 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/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.

File a Complaint

Students have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the United States Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Annual Notification

In accordance with FERPA, UB annually provides students in attendance with information regarding their rights related to educational records. Student Consumer Information is also available on the Registrar’s website.

Revision History

December 2015 Updated the definition of University Official and added the definition of Legitimate Educational Interest.

Contact Information

Director, Judicial Affairs & Student Advocacy
252 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY  14260
Phone:  716-645-6154
Email:  ub-judicial@buffalo.edu

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20202-5901
Phone:  1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)

Related Information

University Documents

Forms

Related Links

Presidential Approval

Signed by President Satish K. Tripathi

Satish K. Tripathi, President

11/17/2014

Date