Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a federal law that pertains to release of and access to education records. The law, also known as the Buckley Amendment, applies to all schools that receive funds
under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA applies to personally identifiable information in education records. This includes items such as the student’s name, name of family records, addresses, personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, and personal characteristics or other information that make the student’s identity easily traceable. Education records are all records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by SIT Graduate Institute or by a party acting on its behalf. A record means any information recorded in any way, including handwriting, print, tape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and digital images. Education records do not include the following:

  • Sole possession records—records kept in the sole possession of the maker that are used only as a personal memory aid and are not accessible or reviewed by any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record
  • Medical or psychological treatment records that include those maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists
  • Employment records, if employment is not contingent upon being a student
  • Law enforcement records
  • Records collected about an individual after that person is no longer a student

FERPA rights apply to students. A student is a person who is or has been in attendance at the institution. Under FERPA, a student has a right to:

  • inspect and review their education records;
  • request to amend their education records;
  • have some control over the disclosure of information from their education records; and
  • file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with FERPA.

SIT may at its discretion (but is not obligated to) release directory information without prior written consent. Directory information is limited to name, ID photo, address, telephone numbers, email address, dates of attendance, degree and concentration, date of degree conferral, practicum location, and organization. Directory information may be released freely unless the student files a written request to withhold disclosure of information with the registrar. The block will remain in effect until a written statement from the student releasing the hold on directory information is received by the registrar. The school notifies students annually of their FERPA rights in the SIT Graduate Institute Course Catalog. If students believe that such rights have been violated, they may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. Additional information is available at ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html. Upon written request, the student may request to inspect and review their education records. By law, the registrar has 45 days to respond to the request. If the records contain information on more than one student, the requesting student may inspect, review, or be informed on only the information specific to their own records. The contents of a student’s education records may be challenged by the student on the grounds that they are inaccurate or misleading, or are otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student, by submitting a written statement to the registrar, the official custodian.