The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Also known as the "Buckley Amendment," FERPA is a federal law enacted in 1974 which enables students certain rights with respect to their education records. Specifically, it enables students the right to:
- Inspect and review their education records,
- Request the amendment of inaccurate or misleading records,
- Consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education record and
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by VIU to comply with this law.
Virginia International University strives to fully comply with this law by protecting the privacy of student records and judiciously evaluating requests for release of information from those records. FERPA authorizes the release of "Directory Information" without the student's prior consent under certain conditions which are set forth in the Act.
Frequently Asked Questions
To whose records does FERPA apply?
FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance, including students in online programs.
To what records does FERPA apply?
FERPA applies to all educational records in whatever medium which are:
- Maintained by VIU and
- Directly related to a student.
Who is a school official?
A school official is a person employed by the university including a full time or adjunct professor/instructor, an administrator, clerical staff, a member of the board of trustees or a member of committees and disciplinary boards, or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary committee, with legitimate educational interests.
What is a “legitimate educational interest”?
In accordance with FERPA, a school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility.
What are education records?
Education records are records that are:
- Directly related to a student and
- Maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
What is personally identifiable information?
Personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: the student's name; the name of the student's parent or other family member; the address of the student or student's family; a personal identifier, such as the student's social security number or student identification number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable; or other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable.
What is "Directory Information?"
Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At VIU it includes the student's name, address, telephone number(s), photograph, e-mail address, date and place of birth, program undertaken, dates of attendance, certificates/diplomas/ degrees, and honors (including President’s and Dean's list).
Note: Directory information is information that the university may disclose, but it is not required to do so. It is university policy to refrain from actively disclosing addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth, however we routinely verify this information. The university does not disclose social security numbers, personal identification numbers, grades, grade point averages nor academic actions unless the student has signed a consent form.
Can students control disclosure of "Directory Information?"
Yes, students are notified of their right to control the disclosure of "Directory Information" in the Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA which is published in the catalog. They are required to complete a Directory Information Withhold/Release Form and submit the form in person at the Registrar's Office with a photo ID. If a student elects to control disclosure, no information will be disclosed on the student, nor will verification of enrollment be given to any callers.
Do I need to do anything specific to allow my directory information to be released?
No, you do not do anything. Unless you submit Directory Information Withhold form, it is assumed you have agreed to Directory Information Release.
What about information that is not listed in the Directory Information? How is the release of this information controlled?
Information not listed in the Directory is only released with the students written consent at all times to the general public, including parents.
How can I request to withhold my directory information?
Please submit a Directory Information Withhold Form to the Registrar’s Office.
If I change my mind and want to release my directory information, what shall I do?
If you no longer wish to prevent the disclosure of your directory information, please submit a Release Directory Information form to the Registrar’s Office.
Is prior consent always necessary before releasing information from a student's education record?
Prior consent is not necessary to release or confirm "Directory Information" from a student's education record unless the student has placed a non disclosure request on his/her records. However, all requests of this nature should be referred to the Registrar’s office staff.
Who should I contact with questions?
Note: The above information is intended to give general information about FERPA and to acquaint faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue.