What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. The law applies to current and former students of any institution which received Federal funding, such as financial aid and grants.
When a student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level, rights of access to educational records transfer to the student from the parent or guardian. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.” Once a student is in attendance at ACU, the rights have transferred to the eligible student and the parental right of access no longer exists.
What Does FERPA Mean to Me?
If you are a student, it means that no one outside of the University can access your academic record without your permission. You must designate in writing that another person may have access to your education record.
If you are a parent, it means that your student must list you (or whomever he/she wishes) in writing, on the Education Record Information Release form. The form is for the sole purpose of giving permission for the person(s) listed to have information about the student’s education record. The education record includes, but is not limited to, grades, financial aid information, and campus life information. The form, provided in a PDF file at the link above, must be signed and submitted by the student to the Registrar’s Office. Students may also retract the form (and thus, retract the right of access for the named person) at any time by coming to the Registrar’s Office.
Adobe Reader is required to view the form. Once downloaded, the file should be printed, signed by the student, and returned to the Registrar’s Office.
Annual Notification of FERPA Rights
Annually, Abilene Christian University informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. This act, with which the institution intends to comply fully, was designated to protect the privacy of educational records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act office (FERPA) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the Act.
Our full Annual FERPA Notice to Students is found in the ACU Catalog, which can be accessed here.
Disclosure of Student Records
In general, no personally identifiable information from a student’s education records will be disclosed without written consent from the student. This includes, but is not limited to, grade reports, academic schedule information and transcripts. Two exceptions may, however, be made: (1) directory information will be released unless the student requests that it be withheld, as explained in the section below; (2) records may be disclosed to parents of students who depend upon them as defined by Internal Revenue Code 1986, Section 152.
Abilene Christian University hereby designates student information listed below as public or “Directory Information”. Such information may be disclosed by the institution for any purpose, at its discretion.
- Name, classification, major field of study, address, email address, local residence, telephone number.
- Previous institutions attended, dates of attendance, full-time or part-time status, awards, honors (including Dean’s Honor Roll), degree(s) conferred (including dates), church affiliation, past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors (height, weight of athletes), photograph, date and place of birth.
Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of “Directory Information” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. To withhold disclosures, written notification must be received in the Campus Life office within 12 calendar days from the first day of registration for a long term and within four days for a summer term. Forms requesting the withholding of “Directory Information” are available in the Campus Life office. Abilene Christian University assumes that failure on the part of any student to specifically request the withholding of categories of “Directory Information” indicates individual approval for disclosure.
Want to Know More about FERPA?
For more information about FERPA and your rights, the Family Policy Compliance Office has a web site with details. Click here to go to the Family Policy Compliance Office’s FERPA web site.