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Privacy Rights & FERPA

The Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. The Act provides students the right to inspect and review their education records; the right to seek to amend those records on the grounds that they are inaccurate or misleading; and to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records. The educational records of currently enrolled and formerly enrolled students are protected under FERPA. 

The purpose of the Act (FERPA) is to afford students certain rights with respect to their education records. They are:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within forty-five (45) days of the day MSP receives a request for access. The student must submit a written request for review to the Director of Student Services/Registrar. MSP will arrange for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. MSP education records do not include:
    • records created by MSP personnel that are in the sole possession of the writer and are not accessible or revealed to any other person;
    • employment records, if applicable;
    • alumni records.
  1. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or are in violation of the student’s privacy rights. The student must submit this request to the Director of Student Services/Registrar, and the student must clearly and specifically indicate what part of the record the student wants changed and why it should be changed. Appropriate MSP personnel will review the record and decide whether to amend the record as requested within a reasonable time. The student will be notified in writing of the outcome. If MSP decides not to amend the record as requested, MSP will also inform the student regarding the right to a hearing.
  1. The right to provide written consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

MSP may disclose education records without a student’s prior written consent under certain FERPA exceptions. One such exception to the consent rule is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is typically a person employed by MSP in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); an individual serving the school as a board member; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official may also include volunteers, contractors, or other non-employees who perform an institutional service which MSP would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent, or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official typically has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the school.

MSP may also disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State educational authorities

  1. The right to file, with the U.S. Department of Education, a complaint concerning alleged failures by MSP to comply with the requirements of FERPA, to:

Student Privacy Policy Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington DC 20202-4605

  1. The right to restrict the release of “Directory Information” as stated below.

MSP defines the following items as “directory information”:

    • Name
    • Home address
    • Phone numbers
    • MSP email address
    • Current or past enrollment status
    • Academic program/degree
    • Dates of attendance
    • Degree(s)/certificates earned

MSP may disclose “directory information,” should that information not be considered harmful to the student or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, in accordance with the provisions of FERPA. It is MSP’s practice to typically not disclose directory information to outside parties. Current students have the right to refuse to let MSP designate any or all of the above types of information about the student as directory information. Current students still in attendance must submit a written request that directory information be modified or not be disclosed to the Director of Student Services/Registrar. Former students do not have the rights to modify “directory information” or to request non-disclosure of directory information.

FERPA authorizes disclosure of educational records without the consent of the student under the following provisions:

    • to school officials, including, but not limited to, teachers, whom MSP has determined to have legitimate educational interests. School officials may also include contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom MSP has outsourced institutional services or functions;
    • to officials of other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer;
    • to authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State- supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf;
    • to Veterans Administration officials;
    • to persons or organizations providing financial aid to students if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for an amount of aid, conditions of aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of aid;
    • to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies or institutions; to accrediting organizations carrying out accreditation functions;
    • to parents of dependent students according to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
    • to comply with federal law (e.g. The Patriot Act), a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
    • to persons in an emergency if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other persons;
    • Information the school has designated as “directory information”
    • to a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, the school may disclose the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the institution with respect to that alleged crime or offense;
    • to interested individuals in connection with the final results of an institutional disciplinary proceeding related to an alleged crime of violence to include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution, if the student was found to be in violation of rules or policies regarding such crimes;
    • to the parent of a student under 21 if the institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation of its drug or alcohol rules or policies or violation of any federal, state or local law.
Personally identifiable information, other than “directory information” contained in the student’s educational record, may be disclosed to third parties only with the prior written consent of the student. This written authorization must be provided to the Director of Student Services/Registrar and identify the individual or agency’s name and address and phone number and specify the records to be released.  FERPA policies are also outlined in the MSP Student Catalog, which can be found online here.

The Solomon Amendment

The 1996 Solomon Amendment mandates that institutions receiving federal funding must fulfill requests from the armed forces for access to campus and for lists containing “student recruiting information.” The items that have been identified as “student recruiting information” are student name, address, telephone listings, email address, date and place of birth, level of education, academic major, degrees received, and the most recent previous education institution at which the student was enrolled.

The Solomon Amendment must be honored unless there is an exception that precludes the institution from providing the requested information such as a “Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information” under FERPA.

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