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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Informational Guidelines

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides for the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records and to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of fed­eral aid administered by the Secretary of Education.

What rights does FERPA afford students with respect to their education records?

Students should submit written requests to the Office of Student Records and identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The staff of the office will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the requested records are not maintained in the Office of Student Records, the student will be notified of the correct offi­cial to whom the request should be addressed.

Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the Office of Student Records, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amend­ment. Additional information regarding the hearing will be provided to the student when notified of the hearing.

One exception which permits disclosure without con­sent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate edu­cational interests. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, aca­demic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has con­tracted (such as an  attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a dis­ciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
A school official has a legitimate educational inter­est if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

Family Policy Compliance Office
U. S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., SW 
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920

Who is protected under FERPA?

Students who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or status with regard to parental dependency. Students who have applied but have not attended an institution and deceased students do not come under FERPA guidelines.
Parents of students termed as “dependent” for income tax purposes may have access to the student’s education records. (At the educational institution’s discretion) A copy of the parent’s most recent Federal Income Tax return, where the parents declared the student as a dependent, must be submitted to the Office of Student Records to document “dependency.”

What are education records?

With certain exceptions, an education record is any record 
(1) from which a student can be personally identified and
(2) maintained by the College. 
A student has the right of access to these records.
Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, magnetic tape, film, dis­kette, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

What is not included in an education record?

What is directory information?

Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA if it has designated that information as “directory information.” At SWGTC this includes a student’s:

How does a student authorize release of their education record in the form of an academic transcript?

Students must authorize the release of their transcript by written request with signature or by completing and sign­ing a transcript request form available in Student Services or on line at http://www.southwestgatech.edu/docs/request_for_transcript.pdf. The receipt of a written request with signature to release an education record via fax is permissible.

Who may have access to student information?

When is the student’s consent not required to disclose information?

When the disclosure is:

How will increasing technology impact FERPA on our campus?

The use of computerized record-keeping systems is increas­ing at a fast pace. We can anticipate that the distribution of electronic data will eventually replace most paper docu­ments and provide much information about students to school officials through desktop terminals. It is the respon­sibility of each school official to understand their legal responsibilities under FERPA. The same principles of con­fidentiality that apply to paper records also apply to elec­tronic data.

As set forth in its student catalog, Southwest Georgia Technical College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, age, political affiliation or belief, veteran status, or citizenship status (except in those special circumstances permitted or mandated by law).  The Title IX Coordinator:  Joyce Halstead, VPSA, SWGTC Building A, (229) 225-5062.  Section 504 Coordinator: Alison Welch, SWGTC Building A, (229) 227-2793.

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