Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The following is a condensed version of the Western Colorado University’s “Privacy Rights Policy.” A brief outline of this policy is printed annually in the Student Handbook or the entire FERPA Act may be found online. Access the electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR, Part 99) online and search “20 U.S.C. 1232g.”
A great resource for information about FERPA and rights specific to students and parents can be found at the Family Policy Compliance Office's website.
Western Colorado University abides by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), commonly referred to as the "Buckley Amendment." This law directly affects you as a student and your parents. FERPA affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution. Western considers a person an "eligible student" when the person confirms their intent to enroll by officially registering for, and attending classes, those attending new student Orientation, and those between academic terms including summer break. Therefore, once a student fits the definition of "eligible student," their education records can no longer be released to parents without written consent from the student.) These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review your education records within a reasonable time after the day the University receives a request for access. Students who wish to inspect their educational record should fill out the Request to View Educational Record Form online.
- The right to request an amendment of your education records that you believe is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights under FERPA. If you feel there is an error in your record, you should submit a statement to the Vice President for Student Affairs, clearly identifying the part of the record you want changed and why you believe it is inaccurate or misleading. The Office of Student Affairs will notify you of their decision and advise you regarding appropriate steps if you do not agree with the decision.
- The right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. Western regularly discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with “legitimate educational interests.” A school official has “legitimate educational interests” if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University. Examples of people who are considered school officials and may have access, depending on their official duties, and only within the context of those duties, include, but are not limited to: current faculty, staff, and students employed by the University.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Western Colorado University 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
Release of student record information is generally not done at Western without the expressed, written consent of the student, except where stated in the Act. If a student wants their parents (or other interested parties) to have access to their grades and/or academic record, they must fill out a Release of Academic Information form which can be found under the student's MyWestern account.
- Log into your MyWestern account
- Click on: Student->Student Records->Academic Records Release
In some circumstances information can be released without the student's written consent. For example, directory information includes the following, and may be released without the student’s consent, either over the phone or by mail: student’s name, Western enrollment status (e.g., full/part-time, undergraduate/graduate, grade level), dates of attendance at Western, degrees/honors/awards received at Western, Western email address, date and place of birth, hometown (added as of Nov. 26, 2018), major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, and most previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. Directory information is updated occasionally and the most current information can be found online in the Student Handbook.
Directory information may be disclosed to anyone, and by any means, on those students who do not “opt out” of its release. Discretion will be used in giving out directory information for non-university purposes and will not be disseminated for solicitation purposes. Western is not permitted to disclose any non-directory information to anyone without a legitimate educational interest or without written permission from you, the student, or to others as stated in the Act.
Please note that you have the right to “opt-out” of the release of directory information, which is part of the Buckley Amendment. To do so, you must complete a “Request for Confidential Status” form, which is available from the Office of Student Affairs, Taylor Hall 301. Please note some important details regarding placing a “Confidential Status” on your record:
- The University receives many inquiries for directory information from a variety of sources outside the institution, including friends, parents, relatives, prospective employers, and the news media. Having “Confidential Status” on your record will preclude release of such information, even to those people.
- A “Confidential Status” applies to all elements of directory information on your record. Western does not apply a “Confidential Status” differentially to the various directory information data elements.
- “Confidential Status” will stay on your record until it is removed by you, even after you graduate. If you do not remove “Confidential Status” before you graduate, you should be aware that any job you apply for that requires a background check or any information from the University will likely be delayed as we will be required to contact you individually to confirm the validity of the request.
*Please note: There are no rights guaranteed for parents of students under the Buckley Amendment.
All official correspondence from the University will be addressed to the student at the student’s permanent address. (That is, bills, financial aid award letters, and grade reports). Information regarding grades, average, and or/academic standing will be given only to the student in person or in response to written consent from the student.
Any University policies related to the Act are available from the Office of Student Affairs located in Taylor Hall 301, and in the Western Student Handbook located online.