Letter to Parents and Students

What is FERPA?

FERPA is The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended in 1976, which sets forth requirements designed to protect the privacy of student education records.

Who is protected under FERPA?

Current or formerly enrolled students are protected under FERPA. Students who have applied but have not attended are not protected.

What are education records under FERPA?

Education records are:

  • Directly related to the student, and
  • Maintained by the College or a party acting for Prairie State College
  • Education records can be any media: Print material, computerized data in the student records database, faxes, microfilm/microfiche, film/video, email, or web pages.

Education records are not:

  • Sole possession records (faculty, staff or administrator notes written for their own personal use; not shared or made accessible to others)
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records, except for students who are employed as a result of their status as a student
  • Medical records
  • Alumni records
  • Career planning and placement records
  • Financial information submitted by students’ parents
  • Confidential letters/recommendations
  • Education records containing information about more than one student

Students have two types of records:

  • Directory (commonly considered public & information)
  • Non-Directory (individual education records)

What rights are given to students under FERPA?

  • Right to inspect and review their education records
    • Requests to review educational records must be made in writing to the Office of Enrollment Services. The student will be notified of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
  • Right to request to amend their education records
    • Requests to amend an educational record must be made in writing the school official in possession of the record, clearly identifying the part of the record in question and the reason for the amendment. If an amendment is not granted, the college will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request
  • Right to consent to disclosures of non-directory information, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosures without consent
  • Right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Prairie State College to comply with the requirements of FERPA

When can education records be disclosed?

The student must give written consent for the disclosure of non-directory information from education records. The consent must include (a) description of the education record to be released, (b) the person to whom the records should be released, and (c) state the purpose of the disclosure. This request should be delivered to the Office of Enrollment Services, Room 1160.

To whom can non-directory information in education records be disclosed with a student’s consent?

  • To the student
  • To College employees who have a legitimate educational interest
  • To agents acting on behalf of the College
  • To anyone who is providing financial aid to the student (not the parent)
  • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions
  • To accrediting organizations
  • To comply with a judicial order or subpoena to comply with the US Patriot Act (i.e. ex parte orders, subpoena and court orders, health and safety emergencies, etc.)
  • In a health or safety emergency
  • To an alleged victim of a crime of violence of the results of a disciplinary hearing regarding the alleged perpetrator of the crime
  • To anyone requesting the final results of a disciplinary hearing regarding a crime of violence on non-forcible sex offense
  • To military recruiters who request "Student Recruiting Information"
  • To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs
  • To the Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services for the purposes of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
  • To the Internal Revenue Service to comply with the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
  • Parent of a dependent student as defined by the IRS
  • Parent of a student under 21 regarding the violation of a law regarding alcohol or drug abuse

In most cases, a copy of the disclosure may be furnished upon request.

A health and safety exception permits the disclosure from the student’s record in case of an immediate threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals. Additionally,  the college may disclose information from an education record to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

What is Directory information?

Student directory information shall be defined to include a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, weight and height of members of athletic teams, participation in officially recognized College activities, current enrollment status, dates of attendance, and degrees and awards received.

How can students limit disclosure of directory information?

Currently enrolled students may withhold directory information by notifying the Office of Enrollment Services in writing within two weeks after the first day of classes for the semester.

However, doing so will make this important information unavailable to all, including prospective employers, honor societies and government and licensing agencies.

How can students access their records?

Students have the right to access their records by providing a signed, written request to the Director of Enrollment Services, Room 1163. Copies, with the exception of transcripts from other schools, may be obtained upon request. A fee may be assessed for copying the education records.

How can students request that their education records be released to a specific person (i.e., to a parent or spouse)?

Students should go to the Office of Enrollment Services, Room 1160, to sign a Release of Confidentiality.

How can students request that their records be amended?

Students have the right to request that their records be amended if they believe the content is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. Students should write the Director of Enrollment Services, clearly identify the part of the education record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the student has a right to a formal hearing on the matter.

Note: The right to challenge a grade does not apply under FERPA unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded, under which condition the record will be corrected.

For more information on the privacy of student education records, contact the Director of Enrollment Services, Room 1163 or call (708) 709-3513.

Where can I file a complaint for alleged failures by PSC to comply with FERPA?

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605

Web address: www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco/