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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - Student Rights & Privacy

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - Student Rights & Privacy

 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides students who are or have been "in attendance" at Messiah University certain rights with respect to their "education records". A student is deemed to be in attendance at the University if he/she is enrolled and is either physically present for classes or receives instruction through distance learning. Education records may be paper or electronic and are defined generally as records, files, documents, and other materials maintained by the University which contain information directly related to the student and from which the student can be personally identified.

At Messiah University, education records include cumulative academic records, grades, course schedules, most student disciplinary records, and most student account and financial aid records.  Education records do not include records that are created or received by the University after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and are not directly related to the individual’s attendance, as well as grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor. Education records also do not include records of administrative or instructional personnel which are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record; records which are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his/her professional capacity, made or maintained only in connection with treatment of the student, and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment; financial records of parents; or records created and maintained by the Department of Safety for the purpose of law enforcement. These records, then, may not be inspected by students without the consent of the custodian of the records.

Students who wish to inspect their education records should indicate such to the University official responsible for maintaining the particular record. FERPA requires that an appointment be made for the student to inspect the record within 45 days of the date of the request. If, upon examination, the student believes the record to be inaccurate or misleading, the student may file a written request that the University official amend the record. If the official decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the student will be advised of his or her right to request a hearing. A hearing, to be conducted by a disinterested person appointed by the President, will be held within 30 days of receipt of a written request. The student will have a full and fair opportunity to present relevant evidence. A written decision will be rendered within two weeks of the date of the hearing. 

 

 

Please read the following letter before completing the Messiah University School of Graduate Studies FERPA form.  You need your Messiah University username and password to complete this form.

 

TO:                  GR Students

FROM:            Carrie D. Widdowson, Registrar

DATE:             September 21, 2020

RE:                  Federal Regulations Involving Release of Information (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides students who are or have been "in attendance" at Messiah University certain rights with respect to their "education records.” A student is deemed to be in attendance at the University if he/she is enrolled and is either physically present for classes or receives instruction through distance learning. Education records may be paper or electronic and are defined generally as records, files, documents, and other materials maintained by the University which contain information directly related to the student and from which the student can be personally identified.

At Messiah University, education records include cumulative academic records, grades, course schedules, most student disciplinary records, and most student account and financial aid records. Education records do not include records that are created or received by the University after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and are not directly related to the individual’s attendance, as well as grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor. Education records also do not include records of administrative or instructional personnel which are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record; records which are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his/her professional capacity, made or maintained only in connection with treatment of the student, and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment; financial records of parents; or records created and maintained by the Department of Safety for the purpose of law enforcement. These records, then, may not be inspected by students without the consent of the custodian of the records.

The release of non-directory education record information will be released if

  • The FERPA Release form is completed and returned to the Registrar’s Office for the School of Graduate Studies, Messiah University, One University Avenue, Suite 3040, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 or email a scanned copy of the completed form from your Messiah University email account to gradregistrar@messiah.edu.
  • You have set-up a privacy word in the Challenge Response System and have shared that word with the individual/s noted on the FERPA release.

Release of Directory Information: Federal law permits Messiah University to release directory information without student consent to anyone requesting that information unless a student instructs the University not to release it. Directory information at Messiah University includes a student’s name, home address, campus address, all telephone numbers on record, high school attended, campus email address, photograph (available on the University’s internal, secure, online system), dates of attendance, degree for which a student is a candidate, academic major, academic advisor, academic awards or honors, class year, full-time/part-time status, and weight and height for members of athletic teams. Additionally, Messiah University may provide lists of students’ names by religious preference (if known) once each year in response to inquiries by local churches. Messiah University does not, however, release directory information to outside organizations for commercial solicitation. If you do not wish to have directory information released, indicate as such on the Directory Profile, located on the Personal Information tab in Self Service Banner. You can complete this information anytime.

The University is constrained by federal law to clarify these matters, and we suggest that you discuss this federal law with your parents or guardians or significant other.

Rights granted to a student under FERPA include: 

1.  The right to inspect and review the student’s education records; 

2.  The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA; and 

3. The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

 

FERPA permits (but does not require) the University to release “directory information” without student consent to anyone requesting information. Directory information at Messiah University includes a student’s name, home address, telephone numbers, campus email address, photograph (available only on an internal online student directory and faculty class rosters), dates of attendance, degree for which a student is a candidate, academic major, academic advisor, academic awards or honors, class year, full-time/part-time status, and weight and height for members of athletic teams. Directory information does not include a student’s social security number or student identification number.

Additionally, the University may provide lists of student names by religious preference (if known) once each year in response to inquiries by local churches. The University does not, however, release directory information to outside organizations for commercial solicitation.

Any student may opt for directory privacy in the Student Directory Profile (Privacy Settings) found in Banner Self-Service, which allows students to block any or all of the directory information appearing in the campus-wide online directory. Students who opt to block all of their directory information will be excluded from any lists provided to authorized internal and external departments. Thus, information that may otherwise be communicated to a student’s family  (events, commencement, etc.) will not be. This profile will be effective until rescinded by the student. Any student who for legal or other legitimate reasons requires the highest level of records privacy must meet with the Assistant Provost/Dean and the Registrar to discuss the circumstances involved.

FERPA authorizes the University to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without a student’s consent to appropriate parties, including parents of an eligible student (even if the student is not a dependent for income tax purposes), in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. In making this determination, the University may take into account the totality of the circumstances pertaining to a threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals. If the University determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, it may disclose information from education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. The University must keep a record of the threat, the basis for its determination, and the names of the parties to whom the information was disclosed. 

FERPA also authorizes the University to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without a student’s consent in several other specific situations. Some of these are as follows:  (1) to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, including an ex parte court order under the USA Patriot Act; (2) to another institution that has requested the records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer; (3) to designated federal or state agencies; (4) in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied; (5) to alleged victims of any crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense of the final results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of that crime or offense, regardless of whether the University concluded a violation was committed; (6) to anyone – not just the victim – the final results of a disciplinary proceeding if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has been found to have violated the University’s rules or policies; (7) information concerning a student who is required to register as a sex offender provided under a state sex offender registration and campus community notification program; (8) to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the University for purposes of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, or improving instruction; and (9) to school officials determined by the University to have a legitimate educational interest.

 

The University will use reasonable methods to identify and authenticate the identity of parents, students, school officials, and any other parties to whom it discloses education records.  It will ensure that a school official obtains access to only those education records in which he/she has a legitimate educational interest.  FERPA provides a student the right to file a complaint concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA with Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202-5901. This policy is maintained by the Messiah University Registrar and was last amended September 2014. 

 

Offices at Messiah will use the Challenge Response System (CRS) to view a student’s privacy word to identify anyone inquiring about a student’s non-directory information. Messiah employees will be able to validate the identity of an individual contacting (via phone call, email, walk-in) their office. Sharing of a student’s non-directory information (as identified in the university catalog) will only be provided to approved University officials with a legitimate need to know purpose and those identified on a student’s FERPA release who are able to provide the privacy word.

A student can set-up their privacy word by following the instructions found here, http://www.messiah.edu/crs.