FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as the Buckley Amendment or FERPA, is designed to protect the confidentiality of student records educational institutions maintain and to give students access to their records to assure accuracy. FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

Student rights related to educational records (FERPA)

We want to take this opportunity to give you a brief summary of your rights under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that governs release of and access to student education records.

Release of student record information is generally not done at Bloomsburg University without the expressed, written consent of the student. There are, however, some exceptions.

For example, directory information includes the following, and may be released without the student’s consent: name, local address, home address, email address, local telephone number, home telephone number, college of enrollment, class schedule, picture of student, major, campus attended, status (including current enrollment, dates of attendance, full-time/part-time, withdrawn), honors received (e.g., Dean’s List recognition), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams.

Please note that you have the right to withhold the release of directory information. To do so, you must complete a “Request for Non-Disclosure of Directory Information” form, which is available from the Office of the Registrar.

Please feel free to contact the Office of the Registrar with any questions you may have regarding your rights.

Disclosure of Education Records

Directory Information: BU designates the following categories of student information as public or "Directory Information." BU may disclose such information at its discretion. While BU has the right to disclose this information, all necessary precautions are taken to protect the safety and well-being of our students.

Directory Information; Awards and honors (Dean's List), Campus e-mail address, Class standing (e.g. sophomore), College of enrollment, Current enrollment, Date and place of birth, Dates of attendance, Degree(s) conferred (including dates), Full-time or part-time status, withdrawn, Home telephone number, Local address, Local telephone number, Major field(s) of study, Name, Permanent address, Picture of Student, Student Class Schedules and Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, including fraternities and sororities, and physical factors of athletes (e.g. height, weight).

Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can, but is not required to be disclosed to outside organizations without the student’s written permission.

Bloomsburg University is committed to maintaining the privacy of its students’ records and therefore limits its release of Directory Information for official university purposes only.

Bloomsburg University will not release Directory Information for solicitation purposes to third parties from outside the university. This includes outside vendors, businesses and organizations unless the university has entered into a contract or agreement with the organization to supply specific service to the university or its students that requires the use of this information.

While FERPA permits a university to release personally identifiable information designated as “Directory Information”, the university is not required to release that information. It is university policy to review each request to release directory information and to NOT release directory information unless a clear case is made that it is in the best interests of the student. It is solely the pervue of the university to determine the “best interest” of the student.

More detail in the expandable section below.

Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent.

First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.

In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received on a semester basis at:

Office of the Registrar 125 Arts & Administration Building Bloomsburg University Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301

BU will honor a request to withhold directory information. Students should understand that, by withholding directory information, some information considered important to students may not reach them.

Compliance

You are encouraged to contact BU's registrar, buregistrar@bloomu.edu, 125 Arts & Administration Building, Bloomsburg University.

Under FERPA, you have the right to contact the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605, with a complaint about the BU's compliance with FERPA.

Complete regulations and full definitions of terminology are at FERPA Regulations or FERPA Regulations.

FERPA Explained

Bloomsburg University uses the following definitions in this policy.

Education Records

Any record maintained by BU which is directly related to a student, with the following exceptions:

  • Records made by University employees which are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record;
  • Employment records unless the employment is contingent on the fact that the employee is a student;
  • Records maintained by University Security solely for law enforcement purposes.
  • Records made, maintained and used by professionals or paraprofessionals (e.g., physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor) only in connection with treatment of the student, and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment. Such health records may be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.
  • Alumni records containing information about individuals after they are no longer students at BU.

Legitimate Educational Interest

A school official has a legitimate educational interest when the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of BU, such as when the official is performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement or other official appointment; performing a task related to a student's education; performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.

School Official

A person employed by BU in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including University Security and student Health staff; individuals or entities with whom the University has contracted (e.g., an attorney or auditor, the State Council on Higher Education, the National Student Clearinghouse); individuals serving on the Board of Trustees; and students conducting university business (e.g., serving on official committees, working for BU, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks).

Student

Any person who attends or has attended the university.
 

You have the right to inspect and review your education records within 45 days of the day Bloomsburg University receives a written request for access, anytime after your matriculation.

You should submit your written request, identifying as precisely as possible the record(s) you wish to review, to the registrar, dean or other appropriate official records custodian. The university official will make arrangements for your review of the education records, or will advise you of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

If you wish to photocopy or otherwise reproduce all or a portion of your education records, you may do so, for those items to which you have not waived your right of access, at the cost normally charged students for use of such university equipment.

Waivers

When you wish a member of the faculty or administration to write a letter of recommendation to graduate schools or possible employers, you may be asked to sign a waiver to assure the confidentiality of the recommender's observations.

If this occurs, it means only that we need to be able to say candidly what we think about your capabilities and potential. Very simply, such candor is in the long-range best interest of all BU students and the university.

If you use the services of our career services offices in an effort to secure employment or access to graduate school, waivers are likely to be requested regarding your transcript, your resume, letters of recommendation on file with the office(s), and any other data of natural interest to interviewers.

Waivers may be signed only for the specific purposes of application for admission, candidacy for honorary recognition (including merit-related financial aid) and application for employment. Waivers will not be required and you may be told, at your request, the names of those supplying references. You may revoke a waiver, in writing, for future actions but not for letters or recommendations already in your education records.

Records Not Open to Student Review

In accordance with federal regulations, students do not have the right to review the following records:

  • The financial records of the student's parents.
  • Letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived his or her right of access, or which were placed in the file before Jan. 1, 1975.
  • Records connected with an application to attend BU if that application was denied.
  • Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the University will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
  • Those records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records.

Right of BU to Refuse to Provide Copies

Bloomsburg University reserves the right to deny copies if the transcripts or other records are not required to be made available under FERPA, if the student has an overdue financial obligation to BU or if there is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.

Fee for Copies of Records

Official academic transcripts cost nothing when requested in writing by the student of record. The fee for copies of other education records, whether in response to student-authorized requests or other requests allowed by law, is $.50 per page.

You have the right to request amendment of your education records if you believe they are inaccurate or misleading. You should write the university official responsible for the specific record, clearly identify the part of the record you want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.

That university official will reach a decision and inform you in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If your request to amend the record is denied, the university official will advise you of your right to a hearing on the requested amendment, and provide information on hearing procedures.

This hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer or committee appointed by the Provost. The hearing will be held before an officer or committee with no direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. However, the hearing officer or committee may be employed by or exist at BU. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for a hearing has been made. The hearing officer will notify you, reasonably in advance, of the date, place and time of the hearing.

You will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. You may be accompanied by one or more other persons, including an attorney. The hearing officer or committee will make a decision in writing based on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.

If the hearing officer or committee supports the complaint, the education record will be amended accordingly and you will be so informed. If the hearing officer or committee decides not to amend the education record, you have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreeing with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion is maintained, and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, your statement will be included.

Destruction of Records

Nothing in this policy requires the continued maintenance of any student record for any particular length of time. However, if under the terms of this policy you have requested access to your education record, the record will not be destroyed before the custodian has granted you access.

You have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information in your education records, except to the extent that the Act or any superseding law authorizes disclosure without your consent.

Other than directory information, Bloomsburg University will disclose student education records only with the written consent of the student, except in certain situations where BU retains discretion under FERPA or is authorized under any superseding law to disclose such records without consent, including the following:

  • to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records.
  • a person employed by BU in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including university security and student health staff.
  • individuals or entities with whom the University has contracted (e.g., an attorney or auditor, the State Council on Higher Education, the National Student Loan Clearinghouse);
  • individuals serving on the Board of Trustees; and
  • students conducting University business (e.g., serving on official committees, working for the University, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks).
  • A school official has a legitimate educational interest when the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of the University, such as when the official is
  • performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement or other official appointment;
  • performing a task related to a student's education;
  • performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or
  • Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
  • To officials of another school in which you have sought or intend to enroll.
  • To authorized officials of the following entities, in connection with federal- or state-supported education programs: the U.S. Department of Education; the U.S. Comptroller General; the U.S. Attorney General; or state and local educational authorities.
  • In connection with a student's request for or receipt of financial aid, including determining the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid or enforcing the terms and conditions of the aid.
  • If required by a state law requiring disclosure that was adopted before Nov. 19, 1974.
  • to state and local authorities to whom such information is specifically allowed to be reported or disclosed under state law in connection with the juvenile justice system.
  • To organizations conducting certain studies for educational purposes for or on behalf of BU.
  • To accrediting organizations, including individuals on visiting committees, to carry out their functions.
  • To parents who claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes. If your tuition is being paid by someone else, but you are not a dependent for federal income tax purposes, you should notify the registrar of your independent tax status, in which case education record information will be released only with your consent or upon receipt of a federal income tax return indicating your dependency status, unless otherwise authorized by law. We will still require your permission to release transcripts of your work to family members.
  • to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena, provided BU makes a reasonable attempt to notify you in advance of compliance (except in certain cases involving grand jury subpoenas) or, when BU is involved in a legal action with a parent or student, where disclosure is to the court, without a court order or subpoena, and is relevant for BU to proceed as plaintiff or to defend itself.
  • To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.
  • a. to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense (as defined by FERPA regulations at 34 CFR 99.39), the final results of any University disciplinary proceeding with respect to the crime or offense, regardless of whether the University concluded a violation was committed.
  • b. otherwise in connection with a disciplinary proceeding for a crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense (as defined above), BU retains the discretion to disclose the final results of the disciplinary proceeding only if BU determines that the alleged student perpetrator has committed a violation of BU rules/policies with respect to the crime or offense. The name of any other student, victim or witness, may not be disclosed without that other student's consent. Disclosure to any individual other than the alleged victim applies only to disciplinary proceedings in which the final results were reached on or after Oct. 7, 1998.
  • For purposes of subsections (a) and (b), "final results" must include only the name of the alleged perpetrator student, the violation committed (rules violated and essential supporting findings), and the sanction imposed (disciplinary action taken, date, and duration).
  • To comply with a court order obtained under the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 for education records considered relevant to a terrorism investigation or prosecution, without advance notice to the student.
  • to disclose to a student's parent information regarding any violation of law or of University rule or policy as to alcohol or controlled substances use or possession, if the student is under age 21 at the time of the disclosure and the University determines that such alcohol/drug use or possession constitutes a disciplinary violation.
  • To disclose information provided to BU under Section 170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 14071) concerning registered sex offenders who are required to register under that section.
  • to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) / Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concerning an F, J, or M nonimmigrant alien, only to the extent necessary for BU to comply with Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reporting requirements, as mandated by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, and the regulation at 8 CFR 214.1(h). Consent is not necessary for BU to disclose required information to USCIS or DHS in compliance with SEVP reporting obligations.

Consent for the disclosure of a student's education records must be in writing, signed and dated by the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons for such release, and to who the records are to be disclosed.

Record of Disclosures

Except where not required under FERPA regulations (34 CFR 99.33) (e.g. disclosures to parents, disclosures of directory information, disclosures pursuant to court order under the USA PATRIOT Act), the University will inform all third parties (anyone outside BU) to whom personal information from a student's education record is released that no further release of such information is authorized without written consent of the student.

BU will maintain a record of third parties who have requested or obtained access to a student's education records (not including parties seeking directory information, parties having student consent, parents, circumstances involving certain grand jury subpoenas, and disclosures pursuant to court order under the USA PATRIOT Act), indicating the legitimate interest that each such person or entity has in obtaining this information. This record of access, to be kept with the student's educational record, is available only to the student and the custodian(s) of the record.

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is a Federal privacy law administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office in the US Department of Education. FERPA protects the privacy of students’ education records and afford parents and eligible students (18 years of age or older) certain rights to inspect and review education records, to seek to amend these records, and to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

The Secretary of Education can take appropriate actions to enforce FERPA against any entity that receives funds under any program administered by the Secretary, including funds provided by grant cooperative agreement, contract, subgrant or subcontract. This description affects all fitting entities regardless of whether they have students in attendance or not.

Outside parties who, for the purpose of The Act, qualify as school officials in that they are acting for the agency or institution and are subject to the same conditions governing the access and use of records that apply to other school officials.
A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel, and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, financial aid processing agent, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has out-sourced institutional services of functions may be considered a school official provided that the outside party
1. Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees
2. Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and
3. Is subject to the requirements of the Clery Act, governing the use and re-disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.

An institution may not disclose education records to an outside service provider under this exception unless it has specified in its annual FERPA notification that it uses contractors, consultants, volunteers, etc. as school officials to provide certain institutional services and functions. An institution’s recordation of a disclosure to an outside service provider will not waive its failure to comply with the annual notification requirements for outside service providers.

All contractors employed by Bloomsburg University must complete a Data Security Agreement, and forward to FERPA Compliance Office, Registrar.

FERPA Contractor Data Security Agreement

Legitimate educational interest defined

A school official has a legitimate educational interest when the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her responsibility on behalf of BU, such as when the official is performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement or other official appointment; performing a task related to a student's education; performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.

School Official

A person employed by BU in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including University Security and student Health staff; individuals or entities with whom the University has contracted (e.g., an attorney or auditor, the State Council on Higher Education, the National Student Clearinghouse); individuals serving on the Board of Trustees; and students conducting university business (e.g., serving on official committees, working for BU, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks).

illustration of Carver Hall