The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law governing privacy rights in university records for students and for dependent students' parents. FERPA was passed by Congress in 1974 to provide students the ability to access and review their records and to protect the confidentiality of their records within certain guidelines. Access to the information in a student's records (including access to grades) is generally not permitted to outsiders (third parties) without the student's written consent.
I. To Whom Does FERPA Apply?
For the purposes of this policy, Thomas Jefferson University defines “student” as any person who attends or has attended Thomas Jefferson University.
II. To Which Records Does FERPA Apply?
Thomas JeffersonUniversity defines “education record” as any record in any medium maintained by Thomas Jefferson University that is directly related to a student, EXCEPT:
A personal record kept by a staff member, if it is kept in the personal possession of the individual who made the record, and information contained in the record has never been revealed or made available to any other person except the maker's temporary substitute;
An employment record of an individual whose employment is not contingent on the fact that he or she is a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment;
Records maintained by the office of Student Health Services if the records are used only for the treatment of a student and made available only to those persons providing treatment;
Alumni records that contain information about a student after s/he is no longer in attendance at Thomas Jefferson University and the records do not relate to the person as a student;
"Directory information." Thomas Jefferson University designates the following items as Directory Information: student name, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, major and minor fields of study, credits for which a student is registered (FT or PT status), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, date of graduation, most recent previous school attended, and photographs. Thomas Jefferson University may disclose any of those items without prior written consent unless notified in writing on the form available from the registrar no later than the “last day to add” (see Academic Calendar) of the fall, winter, spring or summer terms. Such notice shall be effective only until the end of the academic year during which it is given. An online student directory listing each student's name, permanent address/phone number and local address/phone number is created each fall by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Information Technology. The directory is password-protected and only available to individuals affiliated with the University.
III. How Are Students Informed About FERPA?
Students will be notified of their FERPA rights through the annual distribution of the University Academic Catalog and the Student Handbook.
IV. How Can Students Inspect Their Records?
Students may inspect and review their education records upon written request to the Office of University Registrar. The request must identify as precisely as possible the record or records he or she wishes to inspect.
The record custodian or an appropriate Thomas Jefferson University staff member will make the needed arrangements for access as promptly as possible and notify the student of the time and place where the records can be inspected if the inspection cannot be done at the time of request. Access will be given in 45 days or fewer from the receipt of request.
When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the records which relate to him/her.
V. When May the University Refuse Student Access to Records?
Thomas Jefferson University reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect the following records:
- The financial statement of the student's parent(s);
- Letters and statements of recommendation to which the student has waived his or her rights of access, or that were placed in the files before January 1, 1975;
- Records connected with an application to attend Thomas Jefferson University or a component unit of Thomas Jefferson University if that application was denied;
- Those records that are excluded from the FERPA definition of “education records.”
VI. When May the University Refuse to Provide Copies of Records?
Thomas JeffersonUniversity reserves the right to deny transcripts or copies of records not required to be made available by FERPA in any of the following situations:
- The student is currently attending Thomas Jefferson University or is a former student who lives within a commuting distance of Thomas Jefferson University;
- The student has an unpaid financial obligation to Thomas Jefferson University; or
- There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.
However, even in the above situations, students will not be denied the right to inspect their records. Thomas Jefferson University will not normally issue copies of any document if an original or source document exists elsewhere (e.g., records from other schools).
VII. Where Are Students' Education Records Kept?
The following is a list of the types of records that the University maintains, their locations and their custodians.
Office of the Campus Registrar, Archer Hall, First Floor
Custodian of Records: Campus Registrar
Cumulative Academic Records
Office of the Campus Registrar, Archer Hall, First Floor
Custodian of Records: Campus Registrar
Athletics Office, Althouse Hall
Custodian of Records: Director of Athletics
Student Conduct/Disciplinary Records
Office of the Dean of Students, Kanbar Campus Center, Second Floor
Custodian of Records: Dean of Students
Financial Aid Office, White Corners, First Floor
Custodian of Records: Director of Financial Aid
International Student Affairs Records
Office of International Education and Global Initiatives, Kanbar Campus Center, First Floor
Custodian of Records: Director of International Education and Exchange Programs
Internship Placement Records
Career Services, Kanbar Campus Center
Custodian of Records: Director of Career Services
Note: Other student education records not indicated above are available upon specific request.
VIII. When May Students' Education Records Be Disclosed to Others?
Thomas Jefferson University may disclose information from a student's education records only with the written consent of the student, EXCEPT:
- To Thomas Jefferson University officials who have a legitimate education interest in the records. Thomas Jefferson University officials include persons employed by Thomas Jefferson University in supervisory, academic, research, or support staff positions; persons employed by or under contract to Thomas Jefferson University to perform a special task, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent, university security unit, persons serving on the board of trustees, or a student serving in an official committee such as disciplinary or grievance committee; or students assisting another school official in performing his or her official task. A Thomas Jefferson University official has a legitimate education interest if he or she is performing a task that is part of his/her responsibilities or contract agreement, performing a task that is related to the student's education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, or providing a service or benefit to the student such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
- Upon request to officials of another school to which a student seeks or intends to enroll or has enrolled, although such information is usually transmitted only in response to a specific written request from the student
- To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local education authorities in connection with certain state or federally supported education programs
- In connection with a student's request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid
- To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of Thomas Jefferson University;
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions
- To comply with a court order or a lawfully issued subpoena when specifically requests (student may not be notified)
- To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency
- To parents/legal guardians of an eligible student who claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes. The University informs parents/guardians where it deems appropriate
- In cases of violent crime, the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against an accused student to the alleged victim.
A log shall be maintained in each student record to document the use of that record by individuals other than University officials. The log shall indicate the date of the request, the individual or the organization using the record, and the purpose for which it was used. The student (or parent/guardian of a dependent student) may inspect and review this log.
IX. How May a Student Make Changes to Education Records?
Students have the right to request to have records corrected or amended that they believe are inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their privacy rights. Following are the procedures for the correction of records:
- The student must ask the appropriate official of Thomas Jefferson University to amend a record. In doing so, the student should identify the part of the record s/he believes should be changed and specify why s/he believes it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of his or her privacy or other rights
- Thomas Jefferson University may comply with the request or it may decide not to comply. If it decides not to comply, Thomas Jefferson University will notify the student of the decision and advise him/her of the right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading or a violation of the student's rights
- Upon request, Thomas Jefferson University will arrange for a hearing and notify the student of the date, place and time of the hearing reasonably in advance
- The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party (although he or she may be an official of the institution). The student will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student's education records. The student may be assisted by one or more individuals, including an attorney
- Thomas Jefferson University will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision
- If Thomas Jefferson University decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student's rights of privacy, it will notify the student that s/he has the right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or a statement setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision
- The statement will be maintained as a part of the student's education records as long as the contested portion is maintained. If the student requests disclosure of the record that contains the contested portion, s/he may indicate that the files also contain the student's statement, which will then accompany any disclosure of the record
- If Thomas Jefferson University decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the student's rights of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the student that the record has been amended.
The provisions of this section may not be used to challenge course grades.
X. To Whom May a Student Complain if Issues Arise?
Students who believe that Thomas Jefferson University is not complying with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or the regulations issued by the Department of Education implementing that act may file complaints in writing with:
The FERPA Office, U.S. Department of Education,400 Maryland Avenue, SW,Washington, D.C. 20202
The full text of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as amended and the full text of the final regulations of the U.S. Department of Education for the implementation of the Act are available for inspection at the Office of the University Registrar.