The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 sets out requirements designed to protect the privacy of students. Specifically, the statute governs (1) Access to records and (2) the release of such records.

San Juan College has developed policies and procedures which comply fully with the intent of this legislation, thereby ensuring students access to their educational records and protecting such individuals’ rights to privacy by limiting the transferability of their records without their consent.

The other major aspect of the Privacy Act of 1974 refers to the release of information concerning students. Other than directory information, the written consent of the student must be obtained before data can be released about that student. This applies to potential employers, schools where students may wish to transfer, reference checks, etc. Directory information, on the other hand, is information which will be released by the college unless a student notifies the Enrollment Services Office that such information in part or in whole is not to be released.
It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Enrollment Services Office if he or she does not wish to have any or all of the above information released.

All inquiries regarding established policy and procedures relative to this act should be directed to Associate Vice President of Student Services. The Office of Enrollment Services Office is located in the Student Services building, located in the lower half of the Clock Tower Building or call (505) 566-3300. Additional information is available in the Academic Catalog.

Additional information is available for the privileged use of the members of the Vice President of Student Services’ staff and the faculty of San Juan College. This information may not be released to any other parties without the written consent of the student and is considered confidential.

Directory Information

San Juan College may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA if the information is designated as ‘directory information’. Directory information at San Juan College includes:

Student’s Name
Telephone Numbers
San Juan College Email Address
Date and Place of Birth
Program of Study
Dates of Attendance
Degree Information (includes degree, date conferred, honors, awards information, scholarships, and academic awards)
Enrollment Status
Participation in Recognized College Activities
Most Recent School Attended

Students may, if they desire, request that directory information not be released. Such a request must be a signed written document, submitted to the Enrollment Services Office by the official census day for the term.

FERPA Release Form

FERPA For Students

1. What rights are afforded a student under FERPA?

These rights include:
  • The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Registrar’s Office, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the College official to whom the request was submitted does not maintain the records, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  • The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the College official responsible for the record, 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 procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
2. How does a student make Directory Information confidential?
“Directory Information” at San Juan College will be made available to the general public unless the student notifies the Records Office of their intent to have this information confidential.  This notification must be made at the Records Office either in person or in writing before the term Census Day.  If Directory Information is requested to be confidential, the following procedures are in affect:
  1. All transactions with academic offices at San Juan College must be made in person with a photo ID. No exceptions.
  2. Without written permission, San Juan College will not acknowledge the student’s existence on campus for enrollment verifications or similar requests. (“Exceptions to this policy include requests from law enforcement agencies (including local, state and federal agencies) or situations involving the health and safety of the student or other individuals.”)
  3. The student’s record will remain confidential, even after graduation, unless the student signs a request asking for the directory information to become public.
3. Whom should a student contact with a FERPA complaint?
Student’s may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by San Juan 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 20202-4605.
4. How does a student authorize the release of an academic transcript?
Students must authorize the release of an academic transcript by written request with signature to the Registrar Office. The request may be submitted via mail, fax, or in person.
Request forms are available in the Registrar’s Office and on the campus Website.

FERPA for Faculty/ Staff

1. Penalties for Violating FERPA Regulations

The Family Policy Compliance Office of the US Department of Education reviews and investigates complaints of violations of FERPA. If the Office finds that there has been a failure to comply with FERPA, it will notify the institution about the corrections that need to be made to bring the institution into compliance. The Office will establish a reasonable period of time for the institution to voluntarily accomplish the specified changes.

If the Secretary of Education finds, after this reasonable period of time that an institution has failed to comply with FERPA and determines that compliance cannot be secured by any means, he can, among other options direct that no federal funds under his administrative control (financial aid, education grants, etc.) be made available to that institution.
2. Parental Access to Student’s Educational Record
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. Parents must obtain a signed consent from their child to receive non-directory information. The Registrar’s Office keeps that consent on file and the authorization is tracked in Datatel. Should a parent contact you regarding their child, faculty/staff must check for this authorization prior to releasing that information. If the authorization does not exist, faculty/staff must not discuss the student with their parent and advise the parent that their child must provide San Juan College signed, written authorization before information may be released.
3. Posting of Grades by Faculty
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name or ID number without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades to a class website and applies to any public posting of grades for students taking distance education courses.
  • Instructors and others who post grades should use a system that ensures that FERPA requirements are met. This can be accomplished either by obtaining the student’s written permission or by using code words or randomly assigned numbers that only the instructor and individual student should know.
  • Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student’s privacy rights.
  • Notification of grades via e-mail is not recommended. There is minimal guarantee of confidentiality on e-mail. The institution would be held responsible if an unauthorized third party gained access, in any manner, to a student’s educational record through any electronic transmission method.
San Juan College provides a secure web application for students (WebAdvisor) to view their academic record. In addition to the ID number, a student must also supply a self-assigned PIN, which is a second level of security, to view these records.
4. Letters of Recommendation
Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person’s personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student. However, if personally identifiable information obtained from a student’s educational record is included in the letter of recommendation (grades, GPA, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which (1) specifies the records that may be disclosed, (2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.
  • If the person writing the recommendation keeps this letter on file, it would be part of the student’s education record and the student has the right to read it unless he or she has waived that right to access.
Sample letter of recommendation –
I give permission to Prof. Smith to write a letter of recommendation to:
Allstate Insurance
324 Wilkins Drive
Atlanta, GA 33011
Prof Smith has my permission to include my gpa and grades.
I waive (or do not waive) my right to review a copy of this letter at any time in the future.


5. The Media

Nothing in FERPA allows an institution to discuss a student’s educational record publicly – even if a lawsuit has made the information a matter of public record. A school official may not assume that a student’s public discussion of a matter constitutes implied consent for the school official to disclose anything other than directory information in reply. Additionally, college employees should follow college policy regarding the release of information to the media. The official spokesperson for the college is the Director of Public Relations.

6. Legitimate Educational Interest

What is “legitimate educational interest”? In accordance with FERPA, a school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility. This includes such purposes as:
  • tasks that are specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement
  • tasks related to a student’s education
  • tasks related to the discipline of a student
  • services or benefits relating to the student or student’s family, such as advising, job placement, financial aid, or housing assistance
What is NOT “legitimate educational interest”? Legitimate educational interest does not convey inherent rights to any and all student information. The law discriminates between educational interest, and personal or private interest; determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Educational interest does not constitute authority to disclose information to a third party without the student’s written permission.
7. Special “DON’TS” for Faculty
To avoid violations of FERPA rules, DO NOT:
  • at any time use ANY portion of the ID Number of a student in a public posting of grades
  • ever link the name of a student with that student’s ID number in any public manner
  • leave graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
  • circulate a printed class list with student name and ID number or grades as an attendance roster
  • discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents) without the consent of the student
  • provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose
  • provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than college employees in finding a student on campus. Refer such requests to the San Juan College Public Safety Office.
Resource: The AACRAO 2001 FERPA Guide

FERPA for Parents

1. How does a parent obtain information about a son’s/daughter’s academic or financial records?

There are three actions that can be taken to obtain the student’s records.
  • Arrange with the student to share their Password to access information via WebAdvisor.
  • Have the student sign a FERPA Release. This will allow those listed on the FERPA Release to obtain information by contacting various offices on campus. NOTE: A signed request from individuals listed on the FERPA release is required prior to issuance of transcripts.
  • The parent may provide, on an annual basis, a copy of his/her Federal Income Tax Returns showing the student is claimed as a dependent.