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: Office of the Registrar : FERPA FAQs

FERPA FAQs

ANNUAL NOTIFICATION TO STUDENTS

Institutions must notify students of their rights under FERPA annually. Middle Georgia State University students may find that notification by clicking here. For additional information concerning FERPA, faculty, staff and students may consult the FAQ on this page.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - GENERAL INFORMATION

Q. What is FERPA?
A. The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act ( FERPA), a federal law enacted in 1974, affords students the right to inspect and review their education records, request the amendment of their records (if proven inaccurate or misleading), limit disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education record and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures of the institution to comply with the law. Middle Georgia State University makes every effort to comply with the law by protecting the privacy of student records and by evaluating requests for release of information from those records. However, FERPA authorizes the release of "Directory Information" without the student's prior consent under certain conditions which are set forth in the Act. Middle Georgia State University has defined its "Directory Information" in accordance with the law.

Q. How does FERPA apply to faculty and staff?
A. Faculty and staff who have a need to know are permitted access to a students' records in the course of their duties as school officials. As such, the law requires them to act in a legally specified manner as described below.

Q. What are education records?
A. Education records are records that are: 1. directly related to a student and 2. maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

Q. What is personally identifiable information?
A. Personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: the student's name; the name of the student's parent or other family member; the address of the student or student's family; a personal identifier, such as the student's social security number or student number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable; or other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable.

Q. How is compliance monitored?
A. The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) monitors schools for compliance. Students have the right to file complaints with the FPCO alleging failure by Middle Georgia State University to comply with the requirements of the Act. Failure to comply may result in a loss of federal funding for financial aid and educational grants and/or civil litigation.

Q. What is "Directory Information?"
A. Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At MGA the following is designated as public or "Directory Information": The student's name, addresses, telephone number, date of birth, major field of study, degree sought, expected date of completion of degree requirements and graduation, degrees and awards received, dates of attendance, full or part time enrollment status, the previous educational agency or institution attended, and participation in officially recognized activities and other similar information.

Note: Directory information is information that the College may disclose, but it is not required to do so. The university does not disclose social security numbers, personal identification numbers, grades, grade point averages, class schedules, academic actions nor the number of credits enrolled in or earned unless the student has signed a consent form that specifically identifies to whom the information is to be released to.

Q. Can students control disclosure of "Directory Information?"
A. Yes, students are notified of their right to control the disclosure of "Directory Information" in the Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA. They are required to complete a request to restrict the disclosure of Directory Information in the Registrar's Office in person with photo ID. If a student elects to control disclosure, no information will be released unless specifically authorized by the student in writing to the Registrar's Office

Q. To whose records does FERPA apply?
A. FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance, including students in cooperative and correspondence programs.

Q. To what records does FERPA apply?
A. FERPA applies to all educational records in whatever medium which are directly related to a student.

Q. Is prior consent always necessary before releasing information from a student's education record?
A. Prior consent is not necessary to release or confirm "Directory Information" from a student's education record unless the student has placed a non disclosure request on his/her records.

Q. How will I know if a student has requested that "Directory Information" not be disclosed?
A. The student's privacy preference with regard to the disclosure of Directory Information is specified if the "confidentiality flag" appears in the Banner Student Information System when the student's record is accessed. In this case, no information can be released.

Q. Where can I get more specific information?
A. You can refer to the Family Compliance Policy Office (U.S. Dept. of Education) at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OII/fpco/ferpa

Q. Who should I contact with questions?
A. The Registrar's Office (Toll-Free) at 1-877-238-8664.

Q. How does FERPA apply to faculty and staff?
A. The law requires faculty and staff to treat students' education records in a legally specified manner.

Q. When do FERPA rights begin?
A. FERPA rights begin when the student registers. Students who originally sought admission to one program of study at the college or university and are denied, but subsequently are admitted and enrolled in a different program of study have FERPA rights only in their admitted/enrolled program of study. Applicants who were denied admission to the college or University or who do not attend do not have rights under FERPA.


Grades
Students' scores or grades should not be displayed publicly. Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered personally identifiable information and must not be used. Grades, transcripts or degree audits distributed for purposes of advisement should not be placed in plain view in open mail boxes located in public places.

Papers
Graded papers or tests should not be left unattended on a desk in plain view in a public area nor should students sort through them in order to retrieve their own work.

Athletes
The education records of student athletes are covered by FERPA. Without a signed consent form, personally identifiable information may not be disclosed from the education records of student athletes.

Class rosters/grades sheets
These and other reports should be handled in a confidential manner and the information contained on them should not be re-disclosed to third parties.

Parents
Parents, spouses and other relatives do not have a right to information contained in a student's education record.

Banner SIS / SWORDS
Access to the Banner Student Information System is not tantamount to authorization to view the data. Faculty are deemed to be "school officials" and can access data in Banner or BannerWeb if they have a "legitimate educational interest." A legitimate educational interest exists if the faculty member needs to view the education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Neither curiosity nor personal interest are a legitimate educational "need to know."

Important note:
The above information is intended to give general information about the Buckley Amendment and to acquaint faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue.




  LAST MODIFIED: 6/7/2016