What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is also called the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law requiring that colleges and universities maintain the privacy of students’ education records. Students who are 18 years of age or older, or who are enrolled in post-secondary institutions, are assigned certain privacy rights with regard to their educational records. The law states that no academic or personal records or personally identifiable information about students will be released without their permission to persons other than those university employees who have legitimate educational interests in those records. In essence, this means that students must give their permission for the university to release information about their education records, even to release that information to their parents. In addition, Tusculum students have the right to inspect their records to challenge the accuracy of those records.
The Privacy Act defines requirements that are designed to protect the privacy of students concerning their records maintained by the university. The law requires that:
- The student must be provided access to official records directly related to the student. This does not include private records maintained by instructional, supervisory, or administrative personnel. A student who wishes to see their records must make an appointment through the Registrar’s Office. A student may not remove any materials but is entitled, at their own expense, to 1 copy of any material contained in this file.
- The student must be given the opportunity for a hearing to challenge such records on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate. The right to a hearing under the law does not include any right to challenge the appropriateness of a grade as determined by the instructor.
- The student’s written consent must be received prior to releasing identifiable data from the records to anyone other than those specified in numbers 4 – 7 below.
- The university is authorized under FERPA to release public directory information concerning students. Data considered to be public directory information by the university, which may be released on general request includes the student’s name, address, telephone listing, email, enrollment status (full or part-time), date and place of birth, major field of study and anticipated graduation date, dates of attendance, site, degrees and awards received, most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, participation in school activities and sports, and any other information authorized in writing by the student. Directory information is subject to release at any time by the university unless the Registrar’s Office has received a prior written request from the student specifying that the information not be released.
- Tusculum University is authorized to provide access to students’ records to Tusculum University officials and employees who have legitimate interests in such access; these are persons who have responsibilities in the university’s academic, administrative, or service functions.
- FERPA also provides for the release of relevant records to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons or organizations providing student financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or others.
- FERPA provides that educational records of a student who is a dependent of their guardian(s) for Internal Revenue purposes may be disclosed to the guardian(s) without first receiving the student’s consent provided documentation showing the student to be a dependent under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code is presented by the guardian(s).
- Any information collected for evaluation, assessment, and/or curriculum evaluation, including distance education offerings, will be reviewed by the course instructors and deans to ensure this data does not contain information revealing the identity of students.
An amendment to FERPA was made as part of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 that allows Tusculum University officials to provide, without consent or knowledge of a student or parent, personally identifiable information from a student’s education record in response to the U.S. Attorney General or his designee in response to an ex parte order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes.
Students can authorize access for their parent(s) to their education records and allow oral and written communication with college personnel by completing the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and Tennessee Student Information in Higher Education Act Release of Information Request/Authorization form. Students have the opportunity to complete this form as they register for their course work during Advance Registration Days or can complete the form in the Registrar’s Office. If the form is not completed in the presence of a school official, then the form must be notarized.
Faculty & Staff Information
All faculty and staff members as well as student workers who have access to student records must complete documentation that they have read the Tusculum University FERPA Policy or have completed the Tusculum University FERPA tutorial.
Tusculum University employees are directed to forward all calls and inquiries about student directory information to the Registrar’s Office at 423-636-7300 ext. 5311.
For more information about FERPA, click here.