The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

Student Education Records

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. A student should submit to the Registrar, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The Emerson College official will arrange for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Emerson College official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the College to amend a record should write the Emerson College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the Emerson College official decides not to amend the record as requested, the student will be notified in writing of the decision and the student's right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing. The hearing procedures utilized by the College will vary based on the nature of the record which is the subject of the request.
  3. The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. The College discloses education records without a student's prior written consent under the FERPA exception for 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 as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (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 responsibilities for the College. Upon request, the College may also disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Emerson College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-5901

Disclosures to Parents/Legal Guardians of Students

FERPA gives parents/legal guardians certain rights with respect to their student's education records. When a student reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution, regardless of the age of the student, the FERPA rights transfer to the student.

Guidelines for the disclosure of information to parents/legal guardians are as follows:

  1. Parents/legal guardians may obtain directory information at the discretion of the College.
  2. If it is determined that a student is legally dependent on either parent/legal guardian's tax form, parents may obtain non-directory information (e.g. grades, GPA) at the discretion of the College.
  3. Parents/legal guardians may obtain non-directory information if the College has a signed FERPA Proxy or release from the student on file.
  4. Parents/legal guardians may be notified by the College if their student, under the age of 21, has been found responsible for violating the College's Substance Awareness (alcohol and drug) Policy.
  5. Parents/legal guardians may be notified by the College if their student's residency or student status (ability to live on-campus) may be in jeopardy or revoked.
  6. Parents/legal guardians may be notified when their student is involved in a health or safety emergency.

FERPA Proxy Request Form

Emerson's FERPA Proxy Access system allows students to grant a parent, guardian, or other third-party permission to parts of their student record. Students can also set up a passphrase to give Academic Advising, Academic Affairs, Financial Aid, Student Accounts, Residence Life, Student Life, and the Registrar's Office permission to discuss the released parts of their record with the proxy parent or guardian.

Directory Information

At its discretion, the College may provide Directory Information without the consent of the student in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Emerson College has designated the following as Directory Information: Student name, current enrollment, College mailing address (120 Boylston St.), Emerson e-mail address, telephone number, class year, full-time or part-time status, photograph or recorded images, major and minor fields of study, advisor, dates of attendance, degrees, awards and scholarships received, including Dean's List and graduation honors, most recent previous educational institution attended, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams.

The College MAY disclose any of those items without prior written consent unless notified in writing to the contrary.

Opting Out

Students wishing to withhold the disclosure of any aspects of the above-mentioned Directory Information must file a FERPA Directory Information Opt-out Form, available at the Office of the Registrar. The recommendation is to err on the side of caution.

Restricted Information

As outlined by FERPA, a student may not inspect and review the following: financial information submitted by parent(s)/guardian(s); letters of recommendation to which the student has waived the rights of inspection and review; records upon which admission decisions were made; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to the part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student. The institution is not required to permit a student to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in the files prior to January 1, 1975, provided the letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.

FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records – including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information – may be accessed without written consent.

First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities) may allow access to records and PII without consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to education records and PII without consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.

In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without consent PII from student's education records, and they may track participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about students that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records.

A Special Note to Parents Concerning Students' Educational Rights and Privacy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (commonly referred to as the "Buckley Amendment" or "FERPA") is designed to protect the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on their students and to give students access to their records to ensure the accuracy of their contents. The Act affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

Generally speaking, these rights include the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to request amendment of their education records if the student believes they are inaccurate or misleading, the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information in their education records, and the right to contact the Family Policy Compliance Office with a complaint concerning the College’s compliance.

Information that Emerson College may disclose at its discretion is called "Directory Information" and includes the following: name, name of parent(s)/guardian(s), telephone number, dates of attendance, degrees earned, dates of degrees, awards/honors/scholarships, major, sports and activities, height and weight of members of athletic team members, advisor, concentrations, and computer user name.

A few examples of information that are NOT directory information and thus are not releasable without advanced student permission include the student’s schedule, grades, grade-point averages, race or ethnic group, and religion.

Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received on an annual basis (usually at matriculation with a written request). Directory information will then be withheld until the student releases the hold on disclosure or until the end of the current academic year, whichever comes first.