Confidentiality of Student Educational Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) of 1974, as amended, is a federal law governing the privacy of personally identifiable information in student educational records that provides specific rights to students with respect to those records. A student is any person who attends or has attended the College. Education records are any records (in handwriting, print, tapes, film, computer or other medium) maintained by the College or an agent of the College that are directly related to the student. Education records include financial aid, academic, disciplinary and health records, and other personally identifiable information.
A student has the following rights: to inspect and review his or her educational records; to request an amendment to a record that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA; to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent; and to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. In accordance with FERPA, the College provides annual notice to students regarding these rights.
Students have the right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from students’ education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. There are a number of exceptions to this non-disclosure policy, including one for health or safety emergencies. The law permits the College to disclose otherwise private and confidential information from an education record to appropriate parties in an emergency situation if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. Appropriate parties may include school officials, parents, law enforcement authorities, emergency responders, public health officials, medical personnel and other members of the community.
The College is permitted, with or without a student’s consent, to inform parents when their student has violated any law or College policy regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the student is not yet 21 years of age. The College is permitted to disclose to anyone the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense if it is determined that the student committed a violation of the College’s own rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense. In any disciplinary proceeding alleging a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense, both the accuser and the accused will be informed of the final results and any sanction imposed against the accused.
The College is permitted to disclose any and all education records, including disciplinary records, to another institution at which a student seeks or intends to enroll if that information is related to the student’s enrollment or transfer; this includes but is not limited to updated or corrected information.
The College discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the records. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including Safety and Security staff and Student Health Center staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, 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 in the educational record if the official needs to review the record in order to fulfill his or her job-related responsibilities.
Disclosure without consent is permitted when the College is returning records to the apparent creator (e.g., of a transcript or letter) to verify authenticity. Disclosure without consent is permitted to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, provided the College makes a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena prior to release unless the subpoena specifies that notice is prohibited. Disclosure without consent is permitted to lending institutions in connection with an application for or receipt of financial aid. Disclosure without consent is permitted to Veterans Administration officials.
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
A student has the right to block the release of directory information. Directory information is student data not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed; the College, at its discretion, may release directory information. Currently, directory information is limited to the following: name; address (local and permanent); telephone listing (local and permanent); e-mail address; date and place of birth; major field of study; class year; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; height/weight of members of athletic teams; enrollment status (e.g., full-time or part-time); dates of attendance; degrees and awards received; and previous education institutions attended. A student may, to the extent permitted by FERPA, block the release of directory information by filing timely, written notice with the Office of Enrollment Services.
All personally identifiable information not included as directory information is confidential. That information includes, but is not limited to, the following: name of a student’s parent(s) or other family members; address of a student’s family; a personal identifier such as social security number or student number; race/ethnicity; gender; a list of personal characteristics; academic evaluations and grades; transcripts and other academic records; scores on tests required for a new student; and a student’s class schedule.
If a student wishes to authorize disclosure of confidential information to parents/guardians or any other designated individual, institution or entity, a Release of Information Authorization Form must be filed with the Office of Enrollment Services, Harkins Hall, Room 310. Once the appropriate written authorization by the student is received in this office, designated individuals may be informed of the student’s status at Providence College with respect to grades, academic standing, and financial obligations; this authorization remains in effect for as long as the student is enrolled at the College. If at any time after submission of the form the student wishes to revoke consent or modify the list of individuals, institutions or entities authorized to receive confidential information, a new authorization form must be completed and submitted to the Office of Enrollment Services.
A personal record kept by a faculty or staff member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record, is not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record, and is not used for purposes other than a memory or reference tool, is not an educational record. Grades on peer-graded tests or assignments before they are collected and recorded by a faculty member are not educational records. A record created and maintained by the Office of Safety and Security for law enforcement purposes is not an educational record. An employment record of a person whose employment is not contingent on the fact that he or she is a student is not an educational record. A record made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional if the records are used only for treatment of a student and made available only to those persons providing the treatment is not an educational record (other laws protect the confidentiality of medical or treatment records). An alumni record that contains information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the College and that does not relate to the person as a student is not an educational record.
Students may obtain more detailed information about FERPA, including the procedures for exercising their rights, in the Office of Enrollment Services, Harkins Hall, Room 310.
Complaints concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA may be filed with the U.S. Department of Education. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC, 20202-4605