FERPA – Student Record Access and Confidentiality

Purpose

This policy addresses Thomas Jefferson University’s adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and includes references to all educational records, the processes to ensure timely and appropriate access by students to their own records, and security measures to ensure that student records remain confidential, as required, with the exception of directory information.

Definitions

Access – The authorization given to specified individuals, including students, parents, and University officials, to review, inspect, and/or release students’ educational records.

Education Record – As defined under FERPA, education records are records that are directly related to a student; are maintained, in whatever format or medium, by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution; and contain information that is personally identifiable to a student. Examples of education records include: academic evaluations, including student examination papers, transcripts, test scores and other academic records; general counseling and advising records; disciplinary records; and financial aid records, including student loan collection records.

Education Record Location – The online platform or physical location where the Education Record is maintained.

Education Record Location - College/Program Specific – Records that are not maintained on University online platforms or centralized University locations, but are maintained on a stand-alone Program/College online platform or within a Program/College specific physical location.

Hard Copy Record – Student record that is maintained in paper format.

Online Record – Student record that is maintained on a centralized and/or College/Program specific platform.

Student Record – Student records include academic, demographic and financial data information pertaining to the student starting from their application to the University through their entire period of enrollment.

School Officials with Legitimate Educational Interests – As specified under FERPA, a school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University 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 their tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an Education Record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities.

Policy

To ensure Thomas Jefferson University’s full compliance with FERPA, this policy outlines the responsibilities of the University, and its College and Program Divisions, for providing students with timely access to their Education Records and safeguarding Education Records as confidential unless otherwise specified.

This policy is consistent with University and Enterprise policies, including Information Services and Technology (IS&T) policies related to online TJU records.

Scope

This policy applies to Education Records of all students who were, or are currently, registered or enrolled at Thomas Jefferson University.

Components

University, Colleges and Programs designated as Education Record stewards will maintain and implement standardized policies and procedures, as appropriate, for:

  • Granting students access to their Education Records
  • Granting access to University Officials with Legitimate Educational Interests to student Education Records
  • Granting Access to parents as authorized by the student
  • Maintaining confidentiality of Online Records as well as Hard Copy Records
  • Student’s request to amend an Education Record

Access

Student Access

In accordance with FERPA, students have the right to inspect and review their Education Records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students should submit to the University Registrar a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University Office of the Registrar will review the request, and if approved, will make arrangements for access as appropriate and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Office of the Registrar, the Office of the Registrar will attempt to advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

Online Records

Depending on the platform where the Online Records are located, students may have immediate access to inspect their records and amend specified (e.g., demographic) information. In instances where students do not have immediate access to these platforms and/or records on specified platforms have been inactivated, access will be provided as appropriate within 45 days of receipt of the request.

Hard Copy Records

Student Records that are not maintained online and are available in hard copy version only will be made available for student review within 45 days of receipt of the request.

Access for University Officials with Legitimate Educational Interests

Per FERPA, University officials with legitimate educational interests may review Student Records without specific student consent.

Parental Access

FERPA affords parents certain rights with respect to their children's Education Records. These rights transfer to the student when they reach the age of 18 or attend a school beyond the high school level. University students must execute a written authorization allowing parental access to their Education Records.

Disclosure of Directory Information

Under FERPA, the University, at its discretion, may release directory information, which includes the student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major and minor fields of study, credits for which a student is registered (full-time or part-time status), academic schedule, campus key, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, date of graduation, photo, university electronic mail address, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. Students wanting directory information withheld should indicate this on the FERPA compliance form provided to them by the University each semester.

Confidentiality of Educational Records

The University, and its Colleges and Programs, is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of student Education Records. Exceptions to the confidential nature of Student Records are limited to those specified under the “Access” and “Directory Information” sections above.

Amendment of Student Record

Students maintain the right to request the amendment of their Education Record to correct information that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. (Note: This process is in addition to the College/Program Grade Appeal procedures and/or clinical evaluation process, which are managed separately by the College/Program). Students should write to the University 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 University determines not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision in writing and/or via email and advise the student of their 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.

Clinical or Other Experientially Learning Evaluation

Policies and Procedures governing a student’s request to amend a clinical or other experientially learning evaluations are governed by the College/Program.

Right to File a Complaint

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Thomas Jefferson University 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