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Confidentiality & Student Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (Public Law 93-380) is also referred to as the Buckley Amendment. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education. Northland College applies the act to all students upon registration of a credit bearing class and conforms to the law regarding conditions under which confidential records will be released.

Student Rights Under FERPA

  • The right to inspect and review education records within 45 days of the College receiving a request for access. A student must submit a written request to the Registrar’s Office and identify the record(s) s/he wishes to inspect. The staff of the Registrar’s Office will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the record(s) may be inspected. If the requested records are not maintained in the Registrar’s Office, the student will be notified of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  • The right to request an amendment to record(s) that a student believes is (are) inaccurate or misleading. A student may ask Northland College to amend a record that s/he believes is incorrect. The student should write the Registrar’s Office or the specific office involved with the record in question, clearly identify the part of the record s/he wants amended, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her 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.
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. In general, Northland College must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. Forms permitting the release of information to specific individuals are available through the Registrar’s Office. However, FERPA does allow schools to disclose certain records without consent under certain conditions. For more information regarding what information can be released see Records Protection below.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College 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 20202–5901

Records Protected by FERPA

  • FERPA protects the education records of students who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status with regard to parental dependency. The education records of students who have applied to, but have not attended an institution are not subject to FERPA guidelines, nor are those of deceased students.
  • Parents of a student defined as “dependent” for income tax purposes may have access to the student’s education records. A copy of the parents’ most recent Federal Income Tax return, in which the parents declared the student as a dependent, must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office to document “dependency.”
  • With certain exceptions (noted below), an education record is any record that contains information that is personally identifiable to a student and is maintained by the College.
  • With the exception of information about other students, financial records of parents, and confidential letters of reference to which a student has waived access, a student has the right of access to his or her education records. Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, email, magnetic tape, film, diskette, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

In general, Northland College must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions:

  • to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest; a school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support-staff position including security and health staff; a person or company with whom the College has contracted such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.;
  • to federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs;
  • in connection with financial aid, which includes Veterans’ benefits;
  • to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions;
  • to accrediting organizations;
  • to parents of a dependent student;
  • to comply with a judicial order or subpoena;
  • in a health or safety emergency;
  • releasing directory information; and/or
  • releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.

Student Records/FERPA Release

Students may authorize the College to release financial information and/or academic information to specified individuals by completing the Student Authorization to Release Records. This authorization is voluntary and will remain in effect until the student provides written notice to the registrar terminating the service, or upon exit from the College. The completed Student Authorization to Release Records must be delivered to the Registrar’s Office.

Records Not Protected by FERPA

  • sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel;
  • law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit;
  • records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless contingent upon attendance);
  • records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment;
  • records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution, i.e., alumni records.

Directory Information

Institutions may disclose information about a student without violating FERPA if it has designated that information as “directory information.”

At Northland College this includes a student’s:

  • name
  • addresses (local, mailing, and/or email)
  • telephone number(s)
  • major and/or minor fields of study
  • dates of attendance
  • participation in officially recognized activities/sports
  • degrees, awards, and/or honors received and dates awarded
  • non-receipt of a degree
  • academic level
  • enrollment status
  • name of advisor
  • photos
  • height and weight of athletic team members
  • previous institutions addended

Directory information can be released to anyone on request without prior permission of the student, unless a written request to withhold such information is filed in the Registrar’s Office no later than the last day of the add/drop period of each term.

Students Right-to-Know & Campus Security Acts

In compliance with federal regulations, Northland College publishes separate annual reports outlining student retention and graduation rates and campus security policies, procedures, and crime statistics.

Current students are sent notification of the graduation and retention rates through Northland email. This information can also be found on the Norhtland website.

Under the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, the College publishes procedures to report criminal actions or other emergencies occurring on campus, response policies to such reports, campus security and facilities issues, campus law enforcement, policies regarding illegal drugs and alcohol, and statistics on the occurrence of various criminal offenses and fire safety.

Prospective students may receive these reports by contacting the Admissions Office and asking for Campus Security Reports. The Campus Security Crime Report is available on the Northland website.

Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act

The College has available to current students, prospective students, and the public, upon request, a report in compliance with federal regulations outlining athletic participation rates, financial support, and other information on men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic programs at Northland. The Athletic Department has this report available on October 1 of each year.