The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education records. The law applies to all schools which receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student, or former student, who has reached the age of 18 or is attending any school beyond the high school level. Students and former students to whom the rights have transferred are called eligible students.
Eligible students have the right to inspect and review all of the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of materials in education records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for eligible students to inspect the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
Eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record commenting on the contested information in the record.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the eligible student before releasing any information from a student’s record. However, the law allows schools to disclose records, without consent, to the following parties:
- School officials whom the University has determined to have a legitimate educational interest that information. School officials include faculty and staff, and can include students and members of the public who serve on University committees.
- Other schools to which a student is transferring
- Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
- Organizations conducting certain studies for the school
- Accrediting organizations
- Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas
- Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies; and State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice systems, pursuant to specific state law
Schools may also disclose, without consent, “directory” type information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, university email address, date of birth, honors and awards, current major, degrees earned, enrollment status, dates of attendance, grade level, most recent educational institution attended, sports participation and athlete’s height/weight. However, students may request that directory information be suppressed by contacting the Registrar’s Office. If a student chooses to have directory information suppressed, the University will release information to those not authorized under the Act only in emergency situations. Students can make a request that their directory information not be released. Students must submit a Request to Suppress Directory Information form, available online, to the UMA Registrar’s Office. The request will be honored until such time as the student requests otherwise in writing. In the event that such written notification is not filed, the University assumes that the student does not object to the release of the directory information.
Students who would like to allow others, such as a parent, spouse or guardian, to have access to their confidential information should fax or mail the Release of Information Form to the Enrollment Services Center in Augusta. Their fax number is 207-621-3116, and the mailing address is UMA, Enrollment Services Center, 46 University Drive, Augusta, Maine 04330.