3.8. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

To comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly called the Buckley Amendment, the administration of Oglethorpe University informs the students of their rights under this act. The law affords students access to educational records and partially protects students from the release and disclosure of those records to third parties. Educational records are those records, files and other materials that contain information directly related to a student’s academic progress, financial status, medical condition, etc., that are created as a result of the individual being a student and are maintained by the University or a party acting on behalf of the University.

  1. Educational Records
    Educational records are defined as those records created to assist the offices of academic divisions, admission, business, enrollment services, financial aid, president, provost, registrar, student affairs and institutional research and effectiveness in their support of basic institutional objectives and any records identified by student name that contain personally identifiable information in any medium.

Educational records, with the exception of those designated as directory information (see Directory Information, below), may not be released without the written consent of the student to any individual, agency or organization other than to the following authorized personnel or in the following situations:

  • Parents or guardians, if student is a dependent as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and the parents or guardians have established this dependency with the Oglethorpe University office of enrollment services.
  • Oglethorpe University officials who have an educational interest in the student, including but not limited to faculty, staff, advisors, instructors and coaches.
  • Officials of other schools in which the student seeks to enroll (transcripts).
  • Certain government agencies specified in the legislation.
  • An accrediting agency in carrying out its function.
  • In emergency situations where the health or safety of the student or others is involved.
  • Educational surveys where individual identification is withheld.
  • In response to a judicial order.
  • In a campus directory after the student has been informed of deletion options.
  • In connection with financial aid.
  • Parents or guardians of a student if regarding the student’s use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances in limited circumstances.

For more information about educational records maintained by the University, please contact the office of enrollment services.

2. Directory Information

Directory information is information not generally considered harmful or invasive of privacy if disclosed. The University may (but is not required to) release directory information to parties having a legitimate interest in the information. Oglethorpe University defines directory information as the following: student name, University e-mail address, telephone listing, date of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletes, dates of attendance, photographs, enrollment status, degrees and awards received and most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. Mailing lists of Oglethorpe University students will not be provided outside the University community, except to the U. S. Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes as required by the Solomon Amendment.

Students who wish to exercise their rights under the law to refuse to permit release of any or all of the categories of personally identifiable information with respect to themselves must notify the registrar in writing, preferably before completion of registration for the first semester of enrollment for that academic year. If a student has questions about the ramifications of this action, please consult the registrar in enrollment services for more information.

3. Student Review of Records
A student may request, in writing, an opportunity to review the official educational records maintained by the University. Educational records excluded from student access are:

  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the record before January 1, 1975.
  • Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the student’s education records after Jan. 1, 1975, if:
    • The student has voluntarily signed a waiver of right to inspect and review those letters and statements.
    • Those letters and statements are related to the student’s:
      • Admission to an educational institution.
      • Application for employment.
      • Receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.
    • Medical and psychological information.
    • Private notes and procedural matters retained by the maker or substitutes.
    • Financial records of parents or guardians.

    To review their student record, a student must submit a written request to the registrar. Access will be made available within 45 days of receipt of a valid written request. Certified transcripts may be withheld if a student has not met all obligations to the University.

    After inspection of a record, the student has the right to challenge any material which may be inaccurate or misleading or which violates the student’s privacy. The student may do so by requesting the correction or deletion of such information in writing on the above listed form.

    This appeal may be handled in an informal meeting with the party or parties concerned or through a formal hearing procedure. Formal hearing procedures are as follows:

  • The hearing shall be conducted and decided within a reasonable period of time following the request for a hearing.
  • The hearing shall be conducted and the decision rendered by an institutional official or other party who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing.
  • The student shall be offered a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised.
  • The decision shall be rendered in writing within a reasonable period of time after the conclusion of the hearing.

Note: A formal hearing may not be convened to contest grades. The grade appeal procedures are listed in the grade appeal policy (Sec. 6.20.6.).

4. Student’s Written Consent to Release Educational Records
Written consent by the student to release educational records to a third party must specify the records to be released and the recipient of such records. Request forms for the release of appropriate records are available in each office containing educational records.

5. Notification of Parents, Guardians, Spouses and Other Family Members
Parents and guardians may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determined that the relevant student is legally their dependent (as defined by the IRS). Oglethorpe University recognizes the importance of support and interest of parents, guardians, spouses and families of students in all areas of the college program. Students are encouraged to share information about their experience and programs with their families. In keeping with that philosophy, it is Oglethorpe University’s policy not to disclose non-directory information based solely on dependent status. Parents, guardians, spouses and other family members may also acquire non-directory information by obtaining and presenting a signed consent from the relevant student. The University may choose to provide non-directory information to parents or guardians if it is regarding the student’s use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances.