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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Essence of the Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student records. It provides for the right to inspect and review educational records, the right to seek to amend those records, and to limit disclosure of information from the records.

Calvin's FERPA Policy

Access and privacy

Students who are currently enrolled at Calvin College or formerly enrolled students regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency are protected under FERPA. Parents of students termed 'dependant' for income tax purposes may have access to the students educational records.

With certain exceptions, a student has rights of access to those records which are directly related to him/her and which are maintained by Calvin College. "Educational records" include any records in the possession of an employee which are shared with or accessible to another individual. The records may be handwritten or in the form of print, magnetic tape, film, electronic image, computer storage, or some other medium. This would include transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

Official Calvin College Transcripts are released only when requested in writing by the students. The fee is $5.00. Transcripts will not be released for students who have failed to meet their financial obligations to the college.

Disclosure of information

Calvin may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA through what is known as "directory Information." This generally includes a student's name, address, telephone number, electronic email address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized sports and activities, weight and height of athletes, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full- or part-time), degrees, honors, and awards received, and other similar information. A student may restrict the release of his/her directory information by submitting a signed authorization form to academic services.

In certain other situations, a student's consent is not required to disclose the educational information.

Fifteen exceptions are:

  1. to school officials who have 'legitimate educational interests'
  2. to schools in which a student seeks to enroll
  3. to Federal, State, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs
  4. in connection with financial aid
  5. to State and local authorities pursuant to a State law adopted before November 1974 requiring the disclosure
  6. to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions
  7. to accrediting organizations
  8. to parents of a dependent student
  9. to parents of students under 21 for violations of any law or institutional rule related to the possession of alcohol or controlled substance
  10. to comply with judicial order of subpoena
  11. health or safety emergency
  12. directory information
  13. to the student
  14. results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence
  15. to the Attorney General of the United States in response to an ex parte order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes.

Requests to disclose educational information will always be handled with caution and approached on a case-by-case basis.

Challenging accuracy of records

Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy should discuss their problems informally with the person in charge of the records involved. If the problems cannot be resolved, the student may request a formal hearing by the registrar. The request must be made in writing to the registrar who, within seven days after receiving the request, will inform the student of the date, place and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised. The hearing officer who will adjudicate such challenges will be the Registrar, or a person designated by the Registrar who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. The educational records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing officer, if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the educational records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing officer. The statements will be placed in the educational records, maintained as part of the student's records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.


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The U.S. Department of Edcuation is charged with the implementation of this law.