Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

FAQS ABOUT FERPA AND BGSU POLICIES

 

BGSU Policies and FERPA Rights

How do BGSU polices regarding FERPA protect the rights of its students?

At what point do privacy rights transfer from parents to students under FERPA?

Why are BGSU's policies slightly different than those at other universities?

Education Records Protected by FERPA:

What kinds of information are included in student education records under FERPA?

What kinds of information are NOT considered education records?

What is the definition of directory information under FERPA?

How do BGSU policies regarding FERPA protect the rights of its students?

What information does BGSU include in student directory information?

What is included in FERPA's definition of personally identifiable information?

Does financial aid information require eligible student or parent consent prior to disclosure?

Implications of FERPA for Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

What does it mean to be an eligible student (student) at BGSU under FERPA?

At what point is an individual no longer considered a student under BGSU's FERPA regulations?

When is a student considered in attendance at BGSU?

Who qualifies as a parent at BGSU under FERPA?

Under what conditions is an individual considered a University official?

Implementation of FERPA at BGSU:

What relevance does this definition of University official have for implementation of FERPA and the rules of disclosure at BGSU?

What does the term disclosure mean, and what type of records does it cover at BGSU?

What constitutes a legitimate educational interest?

What does the health and/or safety emergency exception mean for disclosure of education records under FERPA?

FERPA in Relation to other State or Federal Laws

Ohio is an "open records" state. Does this mean that Ohio Sunshine Laws override FERPA?

What, if any, is the relationship between FERPA and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

What is the Solomon Amendment and what does it have to do with FERPA?

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How do BGSU policies regarding FERPA protect the rights of its students?

As a public institution of higher education, BGSU complies with FERPA regulations and informs students, parents, faculty, administrators and staff of their rights and responsibilities annually.  The BGSU FERPA policy:

  1. Assures consistency in application of FERPA regulations across the University;
  2. Centralizes policy guidelines and related information available to all constituents;
  3. Defines important concepts within the context of FERPA and BGSU's policies;
  4. Trains faculty, staff and administrators charged with handling education records; and
  5. Provides access to University, state and national FERPA resources for greater understanding and guidance in following and implementing the law.

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At what point do privacy rights transfer from parents to students under FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act transfers both rights and responsibilities from parents to students in its protection of student education records at the post secondary level.  Students at BGSU have a certain degree of control over who has access to their records depending on their status as a tax dependent, the nature of the information requested, and the reason for accessing or disseminating the information.  Generally, students’ parents will not have access to their grades without their written authorization.

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Why are BGSU's FERPA policies slightly different than those at other universities?

FERPA affords each institution some latitude in establishing its own policies, defining relevant terms, and conveying critical information for the health and safety of individual students and other members of the institution within the legal parameters of the Act.  BGSU may be more stringent in its protection of student education records, but not less than what FERPA calls for.

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What kinds of information are included in student education records under FERPA?

Education records are directly related to a student and his or her experience at BGSU and maintained by the University or by an agency acting on behalf of the institution, including but not limited to:

  1. Directory information,
  2. Class schedules,
  3. Grades,
  4. School-related employment, and
  5. Disciplinary complaints and rulings.

These records may be maintained in a variety of formats such as those that are hand-written, typed, computerized or stored in audio-visual or digital media.

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What kinds of information are NOT considered education records?

  1. Faculty or staff personal observations or knowledge of a student's behavior or experience not documented in formal records.
  2. Faculty or staff notes made and kept as a memory aid for instruction, supervision or administration and not shared with others, except a temporary substitute of the record maker.
  3. Records of the University's law enforcement unit if the records are maintained separately from education records, maintained solely for enforcement purposes, and disclosed only to law enforcement officials of the same jurisdiction.
  4. Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational institution that are maintained in the normal course of business, related solely to the individual as an employee, not available for any other purpose and unrelated to student status.
  5. Treatment records made or maintained by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional for use only in connection with treatment of the student and for disclosure only to persons providing the treatment.  In this context, the term treatment does not include remedial educational activities.
  6. Records that contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at the institution.

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What does it mean to be an eligible student (student) at BGSU under FERPA?

FERPA defines a student, at all levels of education,as any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains education records. Under FERPA's guidelines for higher education, an eligible student refers to a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education, regardless of age. When a student becomes an eligible student, the rights accorded to, and consent required of, parents transfer from the parents to the student. [Section 99.5(a)] 

BGSU's FERPA policy defines an eligible student as an individual who has received an offer of admission to a college of the University, or who has been accepted for enrollment in one or more classes offered by a college or other academic unit of the University.  Conditional to this definition is that the individual has either:

  1. Registered for one or more classes or academic instruction to be given at the University (including BGSU Firelands and those educational institutions operating under an academic agreement with the University as part of a University-approved program of study); or
  2. Has firmly expressed an intent to so register, either in writing or through one or more overt acts (such as attending orientation, submitting a housing deposit, or paying part or all of the relevant fees, tuition or other expenses); and
  3. Whose registration or intent to register relates to one or more classes scheduled for the current or immediately following semester (12-month period).

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At what point is an individual no longer considered a student under BGSU's FERPA regulations?

  1. Graduation (without any indication of intent to pursue post graduate activities at the University during the following or the immediately following semester);
  2. Voluntary withdrawal of the student from all courses of academic instruction;
  3. Involuntary dismissal (or other withdrawal of the student initiated by the University) from all programs and activities of the University, and the exhaustion of all internal grievance procedures to redress the dismissal or withdrawal (if applicable);
  4. Unauthorized absence from the University for one or more semesters, as determined appropriate under the circumstances by the provost; or
  5. Cancellation of all classes for which the student is currently registered or for which the student is seeking registration.

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When is a student considered in attendance at BGSU?

A student is in attendance when participating academically in person, by correspondence, or through online courses. This definition also includes work related to the student's educational experience such as co-ops, internships, and work-study programs.It is not enough to be enrolled; the student must be engaged in academic pursuit.

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Who qualifies as a parent at BGSU under FERPA?

The definition of parent includes the natural, adoptive, or step parent of a BGSU student or a guardian or individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian. Full rights are afforded to both parents unless an order, state statute, or other legally binding document has revoked the parent's rights.

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Under what conditions is an individual considered a University official?

The term University official includes any individual employed by BGSU in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position or a student serving in an official capacity, such as a member of a disciplinary or grievance committee, or in assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  In addition, representatives of companies or agencies with whom the University has contracted (such as consultants, external auditors, or attorneys) are considered University officials if they have legitimate educational interests in the information.  (For more information Click Here

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What relevance does this definition of University official have for implementation of FERPA and the rules of disclosure at BGSU?

FERPA mandates restrictions on who does and does not have access to student education records as well as when and for what reasons particular individuals have access.  These restrictions are related to student and parent rights to review, amend and challenge the records.  They also prescribe the conditions under which all individuals functioning as University officials have the right and/or responsibility to access or disclose student records in the interests of education, health and safety of the student and others at the institution.  In this sense, access to the records is based solely on an individual's need to execute his or her job responsibilities.  Review of student education records for mere curiosity or purveyance is never authorized or tolerated.

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What does the term disclosure mean, and what type of records does it cover at BGSU?

Disclosure permits review of official education records or the personally identifiable information maintained in a variety of formats, including oral, written, or electronic media, within the context of FERPA regulations. Only with consent of the eligible student or verification that the student is a dependent of the parent, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, do parents maintain the standard rights of disclosure. [Section 99.31(a)(8)]

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What is the definition of directory information under FERPA?

Directory information constitutes a basic profile based on information contained within student education records that generally is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released.  FERPA provides latitude in each institution's designation of directory information and does not mandate that it be made available upon request.

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What information does BGSU include in student directory information?

Bowling Green State University has designated the following information as directory information:

  1. Student's name, local address, local telephone number, and e-mail address;
  2. Student's home address and home telephone number;
  3. Parent's or legal guardian's name, address and telephone number;
  4. Student's date and place of birth;
  5. Major field of study;
  6. Class standing and enrollment status (full-time or part-time);
  7. Participation in officially recognized sports and activities;
  8. Weight and height of members of athletic teams;
  9. Dates of attendance at BGSU;
  10. Degrees and awards received;
  11. Most recent previous educational institution attended by the student; and
  12. Photographs of student.

This information may be released to a third party unless the student has requested that his/her directory information be withheld.If the student has not requested that the information be withheld, BGSU may (but is not required to) release any of the information. The University does not release lists of student names or other information to off-campus businesses or agencies except as required by law.

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What is included in FERPA's definition of personally identifiable information?

Personally identifiable information makes a student's identity easily recognized, including, but not limited to:

  • The student's name;
  • The name of the student's parent or other family member;
  • The address of the student or student's family;
  • A personal identifier, such as the student's social security number or other identification number; and
  • A list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable.

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Ohio is an “open records” state.  Does this mean that Ohio Sunshine Laws override FERPA?

The Ohio Revised Code § 3319.321, which contains its own version of FERPA, takes precedence over the open records laws and provides similar protection of student education records, including disciplinary records and excepting directory information. Ohio laws are particularly stringent in protecting the rights of individuals receiving mental health care.

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What, if any, is the relationship between FERPA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?  

HIPAA defers to FERPA in the matter of medical information deemed education records under FERPA: "(2) Protected health information excludes individually identifiable health information in ... education records covered by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1232g...."    According to the US Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office which oversees enforcement of FERPA, “ The important piece for school officials to understand is that health records are ‘education records’ subject to FERPA, not HIPAA. (See: Interview with LeRoy Rooker, Director Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Dept. of Education .)

Regardless, BGSU student medical records are maintained separately from student education records and are not available to anyone without student consent.  Consequently, FERPA’s health and/or safety emergency exception governs disclosure of student health records to parents or other entities with a “need to know” to protect a student or others who may come in harm’s way. The Ohio Revised Code’s concept of “good faith” grants immunity to state employees who acted or released medical or education records with good intentions for the health and safety of the individual student or others who may have been at significant risk.

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What is the Solomon Amendment and what does it have to do with FERPA?

Although distinct from FERPA, the Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows each branch of the military to visit campuses, recruit students and have access to student recruiting information for students who are 17 and older and enrolled for at least one credit hour. Under this law, BGSU must release students’ name, address, phone number, date of birth, class rank, major, place of birth, degrees earned, and the most recent educational institution attended. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and including their Reserve or National Guard component are each limited to one request per semester for this recruiting information. These requests should be referred to Registration and Records . (See: Supreme Court Rules on Solomon Amendment )

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