FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Kettering University establishes relationships with its students based on their status as emerging adults and commits itself to fostering their development and self-direction. The University expects its students to assume primary responsibility for their education and well-being. Kettering University also recognizes its obligation to the parents of its students to act in the students' best interest.
In defining the terms of its relationship with students and parents, the University's actions are informed by federal and state law, including the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This act ensures that nearly all communication between a student and Kettering University is considered confidential and that such information about a student's experience can be shared with the parents of an individual student only under very specific circumstances, as defined by federal law. All rights accorded a student under this law take effect at the time of enrollment in a post-secondary educational program, regardless of the student’s age.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act provides for the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and to limit disclosure of information from the records. The Act applies to all institutions who receive federal funding, including Kettering University.
Who is protected under FERPA?
Students who are currently enrolled in higher education institutions or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency. Parents of students termed "dependent" for income tax purposes may have access to the student's educational records. Deceased students have rights under FERPA as long as they were formerly enrolled. Students who have applied but have not attended an institution do not have these rights.
What access do parents have to their children's educational records, according to FERPA?
The following four statements summarize FERPA's position regarding parental access to their children's records:
- When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student.
- Parents may obtain directory information only at the discretion of the institution.
- Parents may obtain non-directory information only at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determined that their child is legally their dependent.
- Parents may also obtain non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their child. The Student Consent for Release of Information form.
What are educational records?
According to FERPA, an educational record, with limited exception, is a record which is maintained by the institution, directly related to a student, and from which a student can be identified. Based on this definition, records from virtually all academic, financial, and administrative offices fall under the FERPA umbrella. For example, grades, financial statements, and financial aid information may not be shared with parents without a student’s written consent.
What is directory information?
Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA through what is known as "directory information." This generally includes a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized sports & activities, weight and heights of athletes, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and other similar information. Each institution is required annually to identify what constitutes directory information within its policy. This notice must also provide procedures for students to restrict the institution from releasing his/her directory information.
Who is entitled to student information?
- The student and any outside party, including parents, who has the student's written consent.
- School officials who have "legitimate educational interests," as defined in FERPA.
- Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.
- A judicial order or subpoena which allows the institution to release records without the student's consent; however, a "reasonable effort" must be made to notify the student before complying with the order.
When is the student's consent not required to disclose information?
There are 13 exceptions:
- To school officials (as defined in the policy).
- To schools in which a student seeks to enroll.
- To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs.
- In connection with financial aid.
- To state and local authorities pursuant to a state law adopted before November 1974 requiring the disclosure.
- To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions.
- To accrediting organizations.
- To parents of a dependent student.
- To comply with judicial order or subpoena.
- Health or safety emergency.
- Directory information.
- To the student.
- Results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.
Students may obtain consent of information release forms from the Kettering University Registrar’s Office.