The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
Students may complete the FERPA Release Form to grant permission to release all or part of their records to specific individuals.
The following sections cover essential aspects of FERPA at Illinois Institute of Technology:
- Directory Information
- Accessibility of Educational Records
- Release of Information to Parents of Students
- Requesting Amendment of Educational Records
- Complaint Procedure
FERPA provides that educational institutions, such as post-secondary institutions, may disclose education records or personally identifiable information from such records only if an eligible student has provided prior written consent, except in several specified circumstances. An “eligible student” is one who is at least 18 years of age or attends a post-secondary institution. The term “education records” is broadly defined as those records that are:
- Directly related to a student
- Maintained by an educational agency/institution or a party acting for the agency or institution
For general information about FERPA, please visit the United States Department of Education's website or review the brochure below.
Illinois Tech reserves the right to release, at its own discretion, the following items of directory information about any student registered for at least one credit hour during the academic year in which such directory information is provided.
Within three weeks after the close of registration, the student can file with the Office of the Registrar a statement in writing requesting the withholding of each specific item of directory information that the student does not wish to have released.
Directory information may include:
- Name of student
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of attendance at Illinois Tech
- Local address, phone number, and email address of student
- Home address and phone number of student
- Positions held, place of employment, and extension number of students currently employed by Illinois Tech
- Department of specialization and educational level (undergraduate; non-degree-seeking student; graduate student in master’s or Ph.D. program)
- Membership in officially recognized campus organizations and on teams, and offices held in such organizations
- Degrees earned, special awards and recognition given (including Dean's List), and scholarships awarded based on academic or other achievement (as opposed to those awarded based on need)
- Photograph of student
Such directory information available from educational records kept by Illinois Tech may also be released concerning former students at Illinois Tech for the time during which they were registered as students at Illinois Tech. Students who wish to have their directory information withheld must notify the Office of the Registrar.
As noted above, FERPA generally prohibits the nonconsensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, except in certain circumstances. Accordingly, if one or more of the exceptions are met, an educational agency or institution may disclose education records or personally identifiable information from education records without prior written consent. One exception to the general prior consent rule is the nonconsensual disclosure of information derived from education records that has been appropriately designated as "directory information" by the educational agency or institution.
FERPA defines “directory information” as information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information includes, but is not limited to, a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and dates of attendance. FERPA provides that a school may disclose directory information if it has given public notice of the types of information that it has designated as “directory information,” the student’s right to restrict the disclosure of such information, and the period of time within which a student has to notify the school in writing that he or she does not want any or all of those types of information designated as “directory information.”
Accordingly, post-secondary institutions may disclose, without prior written consent, properly designated “directory information” on those students who have not opted out of “directory information” disclosures.
School officials may not disclose a student’s sex, ethnicity, or race without prior written consent because these items of information may not be designated as "directory information."
Students’ Social Security numbers (SSNs) may not be designated as “directory information” and disclosed without consent. Moreover, the institution may not utilize SSNs provided by the requester to locate the “directory information” on the students. The recent amendment to the FERPA regulations also prohibits a school from using a student’s SSN to disclose or confirm “directory information,” unless the eligible student has provided written consent.
An educational agency or institution may not disclose or confirm “directory information” without meeting the written consent requirements if a student’s social security number or other non-directory information is used alone or combined with other data elements to identify or help identify the student or the student’s records.
Accordingly, post-secondary institutions may—to the extent allowed by FERPA—provide designated directory information. That is, a post-secondary institution subject to FERPA may disclose properly designated directory information on those students who have not opted out of “directory information.”
Students should complete the Non-Disclosure of Directory Information FERPA Form, found below, to withhold directory information from public release.
Accessibility of Educational Records
Illinois Tech respects the rights of privacy of its students and acknowledges the responsibility to maintain confidentiality of personally identifiable educational records. The following policies and procedures will be followed in regard to such records.
Illinois Tech has adopted a policy of not disclosing personally identifiable records of a student without his or her prior written consent, except in the following instances:
- To school officials, including teachers, within the educational institution who have a legitimate educational interest
- To officials of another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer
- To certain authorized representatives of the United States and state agencies who require such information to carry out lawful functions
- In connection with the student's application for or receipt of financial aid
- To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions, if these studies are conducted in a manner that will not permit the personal identification of students and if the information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purpose for which it is conducted
- To accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting functions
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
- To appropriate parties in health or safety emergencies
- To parents of dependent Illinois Tech students, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
For purposes of this section, all students enrolled in the university shall be deemed to be independent of their parents. Any parent may challenge this assumption by presentation of evidence that such student does qualify as a dependent for federal income tax purposes.
The term school officials shall include parties such as professors; instructors; administrators; health staff; counselors; attorneys; clerical staff; trustees; members of committees and disciplinary boards; and a contractor, volunteer, or other party to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions. A school official generally has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility as an employee of the university, provided, however, that the records reviewed shall be limited to those needed to fulfill the particular responsibility at issue.
Students and former students of Illinois Tech shall be granted access to all of their personally identifiable educational records originated at Illinois Tech or submitted to Illinois Tech in connection with their admission, employment, or the granting of financial assistance with the following exceptions:
- Notes or records of instructors, advisers, or counselors that would not be shown to any other individual except another faculty member, an adviser, or a teaching assistant
- For records involving other individuals (e.g. course grade lists), only that portion applicable to the respective student will be disclosed
- Records or statements supplied by individuals within or outside Illinois Tech and other educational institutions or agencies that have been submitted under the assumption of confidentiality in connection with the admission, employment, or provision of financial assistance, including financial statements provided by parents for the purposes of supporting the student's application for financial aid; letters of recommendation written prior to January 1, 1975; and letters of recommendation written after January 1, 1975, for which the student has signed a waiver of the right to inspect the letter
- Records of medical or psychological tests or treatment of the student. Nevertheless, the student has the right to obtain a professional explanation of information in such records and to request that the records be referred for inspection to another qualified professional of the student's choice
For records originating at Illinois Tech, any person or organization having the right of access to any educational record may obtain a copy of that record at a reasonable fee. In general, Illinois Tech will not provide to anyone, other than authorized faculty and staff at Illinois Tech, copies of any items in a student's educational record that have been submitted by individuals or organizations outside Illinois Tech—such copies should be requested from the source from which the record originated.
An exception may be made in instances when the student can demonstrate that the original record has been lost, destroyed, or is otherwise unavailable (e.g. international students from schools that are no longer in existence or the death of a person from whom a reference was obtained). A cumulative record of all individuals or organizations, other than the individual student and authorized faculty and staff at Illinois Tech, who are granted access and/or copies of a specific educational record will be maintained with the record.
Upon making a request, a student may inspect the cumulative list of all those who have been granted access to his or her educational record. The right to inspect educational records does not apply to applicants for admission until such time as the applicant may be admitted and has completed registration at Illinois Tech.
Students and former students of Illinois Tech may make an appointment to inspect individual educational records during regular office hours. To make an appointment, please contact the Office of the Registrar at 312.567.3100 or email@example.com. The office is located at 10 West 35th Street, on the second floor, Chicago, Illinois, 60616.
Students have the right to petition to amend educational records and, if this petition is denied, they have the right to request a hearing. Written procedures for requesting both actions are available from the Office of Student Affairs.
Withholding Directory Information
To revoke access to the directory information, a new FERPA Release Form must be obtained and completed. The student should include a note on the form that they are revoking the right of the specified party to access their information. The form should then be turned in to the Office of the Registrar for processing.
Release of Information to Parents of Students
The Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended rules that when a student begins attending a college or university, the rights previously accorded to the parents shall be accorded to the student. While a student is in secondary school, the parents of that student have generally free access to information about their child. However, once a child reaches the age of 18 or goes to college, the rights of the parents to the information pass to the student.
Illinois Tech may release information to the parents of a student, without the student's written consent, only if the student is a dependent as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. The payment of a student's tuition by the parent does not, by itself, give the parent the right of access to a student's record.
The Office of the Registrar may disclose information to parents of dependent children by one of the following procedures:
- By obtaining the student's written consent; this would be in the form of a simple letter authorizing the Office of the Registrar to disclose copies of scholastic and other records to his or her parent
- By submission of a copy of the first page of a parent's income tax return that shows that the requesting parent has indeed claimed the child/student as a dependent on the most recent tax return; only the front page of the return is needed and the parent(s) may delete/redact the actual financial information
Parents complying with one of the above procedures may have access to the records of their dependent children. Please forward all inquiries to the Office of the Registrar at 312.567.3100, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to 312.567.3313.
Students should complete the FERPA Release Form to grant permission to release all or part of their record to specific individuals.
Requesting Amendment of Educational Records
The procedure for requesting amendment of educational records is as follows:
- A student may request that his or her educational records be amended if the student believes the records contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights. The request should be made in writing to the Illinois Tech official maintaining the record, it should state specifically which part of the records should be amended, and it should explain why the student believes such part is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of his or her privacy rights. The Illinois Tech official will review the request and respond to the student within a reasonable amount of time. If there is a decision to amend the record, the student will be informed of such in writing.
- If the Illinois Tech official decides against amending the record, the student may request a hearing on the matter. The request for a hearing must be in writing and be directed to the registrar, who shall appoint a hearing officer to decide the matter. The hearing officer, a disinterested person in the matter, will conduct a hearing during which the student may be assisted by one or more individuals. The hearing officer shall prepare a written decision that will be based solely on the information presented at the hearing and contain a summary of what was presented and the reasons for the decision. As noted in paragraph one, if there is a decision to amend the record, the student will be informed of such in writing.
- If the hearing officer denies the student’s request to amend his or her record, the student will be notified in writing of his or her right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information or stating why the student disagrees with the decision. This statement will remain a part of the student’s record along with the contested portion of the record for as long as the record is maintained. The statement will be disclosed whenever the contested portion of the record is disclosed.
Students should complete the Educational Record Amendment FERPA PDF Form, below to request changes to their student records.
Students and eligible parents have the right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Illinois Tech to comply with requirements of FERPA.
In many situations, complaints relative to FERPA can be resolved within the university on an informal basis. Any student who wishes to discuss a FERPA complaint may contact the Office of the Registrar, which is located at 10 West 35th Street, on the second floor, Chicago, Illinois, 60616.
To file a FERPA complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, contact the office that administers FERPA at:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920
For additional information, refer to www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html.