WHAT IS FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to protect the confidentiality of student education records. The law states that, except in specified circumstances, no one outside the institution shall have access to a student's education records, nor will the institution disclose any information from those records without the written consent of the student.

CONTACT REGISTRAR

For FERPA inquiries or to request FERPA training, contact:

  registrar@augusta.edu

CONTACT COMPLIANCE

To report complaints or concerns you may have relating to compliance issues, call the Compliance Hotline at:

 (800) 576-6623
  compliance@augusta.edu


FERPA FOR STUDENTS

Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The 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.

Students may ask the university to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the university official responsible for the record, 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 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.

Augusta University will disclose information from a student’s education records only with the written consent of the student, except:

(a) To school officials with legitimate educational interests (a school official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position); a person or company with whom the university has contracted to perform required functions (such as an attorney, auditor, service provider, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or 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 educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

(b) To officials of other institutions in which the student seeks or intends to enroll provided that the student had previously requested a release of his/her record;

(c) To authorized representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Defense (Solomon Amendment), U.S. Attorney General, INS, the Comptroller General of the United States, state education authorities, organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the university, and accrediting organizations;

(d) In connection with a student’s application for, and receipt of, financial aid;

(e) To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

(f) To parents of dependent students as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, Section 152;

(g) To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency; or

(h) To the alleged victim of any crime of violence of the results of any disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university.

(i) The university may disclose the result of a disciplinary proceeding to a parent or guardian so long as the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the incident and the proceeding has resulted in a violation of university drug or alcohol policies, or any federal, state, or local law.

(j) To students currently registered in a particular class, the names and email addresses of others on the roster may be disclosed in order to participate in class discussion.

Augusta University  has designated the following items as Directory Information: a student's name, address, telephone numbers, email, photograph, program of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status (full- or part-time), classification (freshman, etc.), honors and awards and degree(s) awarded.

The university may disclose any of these items without prior written consent, unless the student has submitted a written request to the Office of the University Registrar not to release directory information pertaining to them.

The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520

FERPA applies to personally identifiable information in education records.  Any record- in any medium, including handwriting and email- which is directly related to a student and maintained by the university, a school or college of the university, or party acting on behalf of the university, is considered an education record.

Education records do not include the following:

  • Sole possession records- records kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record
  • Records created by Public Safety for a law enforcement purpose and maintained by Public Safety
  • Certain employment records that relate exclusively to an individual's employment capacity.  However, Student Employment records are considered education records under FERPA
  • Medical and psychological records made, maintained or used only in connection with the treatment of the student
  • Alumni records collected about an individual after that person is no longer in attendance at the university

AU may release appropriately designated directory information without the student's written consent, unless the student has advised the university to the contrary in accordance with university procedures.

AU has designated the following as directory information:

  • Student's Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email
  • Photograph
  • Program of Study
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Enrollment Status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time)
  • Grade Level
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Honors and Awards
  • Expected graduation date
  • Degree Awarded

AU reserves the right to withhold directory information at its discretion.

To restrict the release of information, students can complete the Request for Confidential Status Form.  Requesting confidential status will prevent employees of Augusta University from providing any directory information or confidential information.  When a confidentiality restriction is in place, we an only discuss your record with you in you appear in person with picture identification or if you release the restriction.

Parents have no inherent right to inspect their student's education records.  For a parent to have access to his or her student's non-directory information, the student must have completed an Authorization to Release Information form signifying the parent as someone who has been given permission to access non-directory information.

The university may disclose personally identifiable information of the education record without the student's consent if the disclosure is to the parents of "dependent" children as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, Section 152, and if AU has a copy of the parent tax return on file.

To remove the confidential status, students must complete the bottom of the Request for Confidential Status Form.

Students may complete the Authorization to Release Information Form to authorize release of academic records information to specific individuals.


FERPA FOR FACULTY/STAFF

You have a legal responsibility to protect the confidentiality of student education records in your possession.  You have access to student information only for legitimate use in the completion of your responsibilities as a university employee.  Need to know is the basic principle.

An employee has a "legitimate educational interest" if that employee is:

  • performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by a 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 advising, job placement, financial aid or housing assistance
  • maintaining the safety and security of the campus

AU may release appropriately designated directory information without the student's written consent, unless the student has advised the university to the contrary in accordance with university procedures.

AU has designated the following as directory information:

  • Student's Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email
  • Photograph
  • Program of Study
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Enrollment Status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time)
  • Grade Level
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Honors and Awards
  • Expected graduation date
  • Degree Awarded

AU reserves the right to withhold directory information at its discretion.

DO NOT at any time:

  • Post grades using any part of a student's ID number.  If you want to post grades outside of your office, assign individual numbers to students at random.  Only the student and the faculty member who assigned the number should know the number.  The order of posting should never be alphabetic by student name.
  • Leave stacked graded papers for student to pick up- not even in sealed envelopes (unless you have the students' permission to do so).  Instead, mail grades, papers/exams via campus or US mail in envelopes that students pre-address, pre-stamp and provide to you.
  • Circulate a printed class list for attendance purposes if it shows names and social security numbers or IDs.
  • Allow students to view, read, or record another student's social security number while in your work area.
  • Discuss student progress with anyone other than the student without the student's consent (this includes the student's parents and spouse).

Make sure you protect all education records in your possession.  This includes paper documents in your office such as computer printouts, class lists, display screen data and advising notes.  These are practical tools that you need to do your job; however, they should be protected like your would protect a purse or wallet.  You should not leave these items out in open areas, but store them out of sight, preferably in a locked cabinet or drawer when not in use.

You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee.  "Need-to-know" is the basic principle.

In Banner, when accessing a student's record that has been flagged confidential, a pop-up window will appear.  If a student has requested that directory information not be released, no information about that student should be shared with any third party.  Departments should require that the student appear in person with a picture ID to conduct business.  Business should not be conducted over the telephone.  If any third party should request any information about the student, faculty and staff should state "there is no information available for that individual".  Inquiries can be directed to the Registrar's Office.

Students' information releases are recorded in Banner by the Registrar's Office.  Banner users may view release information on SGASTDN form on the Comments tab.  The information included shows the specific type of information that may be released and the party to whom the information may be released.

Educational records should never be shared with any third party (including parents) if a release is not in place.

When the disclosure is:

  • to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest;
  • to federal, state and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs;
  • in connection with financial aid;
  • to accrediting organizations;
  • to parents who have tax return on file declaring student as a dependent;
  • to comply with a judicial order or subpoena;
  • in a health or safety emergency;
  • releasing directory information;
  • releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

Faculty and staff can share information about distressed or disruptive students with University officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information.  In addition, if a health or safety emergency exists, faculty and staff can share information with other people, within and outside the University, to protect the health or safety or the student or others.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

No.  Even though the person inquiring may be the student's parent, FERPA recognizes students in post-secondary education as adults, regardless of age. Therefore, unless the student is a dependent as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, you cannot give out a grade or any other non-directory information without written consent from the student.

* General Rule: You must assume that the student is an adult who is entitled to privacy, even from parents. Parents may assert their rights to the records if the student is dependent according to the federal tax code.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

Yes. The graded exams and coursework are education records because they are directly related to the student and they are arguably maintained by the faculty member. Student names and ID numbers are personally identifiable information. It is a violation of FERPA for a faculty member to leave graded papers unsecured in a public area containing personally identifiable information.

* General Rule: Graded exams and other coursework should be returned to students in a manner that protects the privacy of the records. Do not leave unsecured in a public area any item of a student's work that contains personally identifiable information. Instead of using names and ID numbers, faculty may opt to use a random number, not the ID number, and the list should not then be in alphabetical order. Or, faculty may leave graded exams and coursework with a department assistant who will verify ID and release the records to the individual student.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

Yes. Information on a computer screen should be treated the same as printed records. FERPA applies to information stored on any media, including, but not limited to, print, audio, digital, video, electronic, or photographic.

* General Rule: The medium in which the information is held is unimportant. No information should be left accessible or unattended, including computer displays.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

No. Because the request is from a third party outside of the University, the police should be directed to the Dean of Students' Office or the Office of the Registrar.

* General Rule: Information about whether a student was enrolled during a particular term is directory information and can be obtained through the Office of the Registrar. If the police require more information, a subpoena may be required.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.

Only if the agent presents you with a written release signed by the student specifying that the transcript can be released to the FBI.

If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office at (706) 446-1430 or registrar@augusta.edu.


FERPA FOR PARENTS

When a student turns 18 year of age, or regardless of age, enters a post-secondary institution, the rights to educational records transfer to the student.  In essence, he or she becomes the "owner" of his or her educational records.

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

  • Parents can obtain directory information unless the student has opted out of disclosure.
  • Parents can obtain non-directory information (e.g. grades, GPA, financial aid information) if the student is a legal dependent as shown on their most recent tax return. 
  • Parents may obtain non-directory information if the student signs an Authorization to Release Information form releasing information to them.

The quickest, easiest way for you to receive information about your student's grades, financial statement or other student information is for him/her to provide it to you.  Students can look up information on their student portal, POUNCE, print it off and give or email a copy to their parents. Your student may also request that a copy of their official transcript be sent directly to you.

FERPA requires that access to a college student's records must be granted by approval of the student.  You can, however, receive information about your student if you submit proof that he/she is a dependent.  Students can sign an Authorization to Release Information form to grant you access to their information.

When a student turns 18 years old or enters a post-secondary institution at any age, all rights afforded to parents under FERPA transfer to the student.  However, FERPA also provides ways in which schools may share information with parents.  For example,

  • Schools may disclose education records to parents if the student is a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Schools may disclose education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.
  • Schools may inform parents if the student who is under the age of 21 has violated any law or its policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

No. Information about grades and academic standing is sent directly to students. 


FERPA TUTORIAL


FERPA TRAINING

The Registrar's Office is currently developing a training module on FERPA and student privacy rights.  This is part of a larger data-governance program being implemented on campus.  When finalized, all individuals with access to restricted student data will be required to successfully complete the FERPA training module.  Periodic refresher training will be required as well.  These modules will be available via WebEx and Workforce Development.

In addition, the Registrar's Office can provide tailored, in-person FERPA training sessions for schools, colleges, departments and other groups interested in learning about student privacy rights and responsibilities.  Please contact Allyson North (anorth@augusta.edu) to schedule a training session.