9.1.4 – Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA), a.k.a Buckley Amendment

POLICY:  Spoon River College (SRC) upholds the Federal law, The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), giving students the right to inspect, review, and amend their educational records.  SRC students are permitted to inspect their own educational records.  In addition, the College will not release or disclose information or allow inspection of records without prior written permission from the student, unless, by law, prior consent is not required under certain circumstances.  Students also have a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College students.


College official: A person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, support staff, or an outside agency (e.g., health or medical professional, attorney, auditor, local/state law enforcement, emergency responder) acting as an agent for the College or the Illinois Community College Board or a student employed in the College work study/student worker program.

Educational data or education records: Any data in any form directly relating to an individual student maintained by the College or by a person acting for the institution.

Eligible parent:  A parent or guardian providing documentation that supports the student is a legal dependent for tax purposes, or provides a signed release as designated by official documentation.

Student: An individual currently or formerly enrolled or registered or individuals who receive shared time educational services from a public agency or institution.  All students at the College have the same rights regarding their educational data regardless of age.

Student records: Student records include any and all records, in any medium, formally maintained by the College that is directly related to a student.


  1. Notification of Rights: The College will provide students in attendance with an annual notification of the rights available under FERPA. A Student Handbook is produced on an annual basis and the notification is available on the College’s website and in the SRC catalog. SRC follows procedures to comply with this law.
  2. Right to Review and Inspect: Students have the right to review and inspect their permanent student records. A student desiring to review records may do so by submitting a request in writing to the Registrar who will schedule such inspections within 45 College days of the request. A student desiring copies of educational records may receive such after payment of a fee of $1.00 per sheet. This is exclusive of normal transcript service.
  3. Waiver of Right to Inspect: The College will not provide confidential letters or statements of recommendation concerning admission to another educational institution, or applications for employment, unless the student has waived the right to inspect such letters or statements.
  4. Right to Amend Educational Records: The student, or eligible parents of the student, may challenge the accuracy.  It is important to note that grades earned are not covered under FERPA because the rights of challenge are not intended to allow a student to contest; for example, a grade in a course because the student felt that a higher grade should have been assigned.  However, FERPA does obligate faculty to honor a student’s request to determine if a grade was recorded in error.  The process to request a revision of an educational record may include the following steps and appeal options:
    1. Step One: If the student believes that the education record is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of privacy rights, the student may request in writing to the Registrar that the record be changed.  The letter should state the nature of the inaccuracy or error and request the revision that the student wants made in the record.  The Registrar will review the request and respond to the student in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the request.
    2. Step Two: If the request to amend the record is denied by the Registrar, a student may request an appeal review before the Dean of Student Services within ten (10) business days of the date of notification of the appeal decision in step one.  Failure to file an appeal in a timely manner constitutes a waiver of the right to appeal.The Dean of Student Services will review the request for appeal review letter and will determine if the request has merit.  In addition, the Dean of Student Services may schedule a meeting with the applicant.  An advocate may attend this meeting but may not participate except to advise.  In the event that new information is presented that may affect the outcome of the original record revision decision in step one, the Dean of Student Services has the discretion to request a meeting with the Registrar and the student appealing the decision.  The Dean will render a review decision in writing within ten (10) business days of the appeal meeting.
    3. Step Three: Following the decision of the appeal review, a student may request a third review before the Vice President, Educational and Student Services.  The request for a third appeal must be submitted in writing to the Vice President, Educational and Student Services within ten (10) business days of the date of the appeal review decision completed in step two.  Failure to file an appeal in a timely manner constitutes a waiver of the right to appeal. The Vice President, Educational and Student Services will review the original appeal letter, the appeal review letter and the third appeal request and will determine if the grounds for a third-level appeal have merit.  The Vice President, Educational and Student Services may schedule a meeting with the student.  An advocate may attend this meeting but may not participate except to advise.  In the event that new information is presented that may affect the outcome of the original record revision request or the appeal review decision, the Vice President, Educational and Student Services has the discretion to request a meeting of the Registrar, the Dean of Student Services and the student appealing the request to revise a record.  The Vice President will render a third-level appeal decision in writing within ten (10) business days of the third-level appeal meeting.
    4. Step Four: Following the outcome of a third-level appeal with the Vice President, Educational and Student Services a student may request a final review.  Unresolved third-level appeals will be referred to the College President for final review.  The President shall issue a decision in writing to the student within ten (10) business days of the request for final review.  The President’s decision is final and binding.
  5. Disclosure: There are two types of information distinguished under FERPA: personally identifiable information and directory information. Certain conditions exist with regard to disclosure of each kind of information. The College complies as follows:
    1. Personally Identifiable Information: Personally Identifiable Information is information that would include identifying data such as student’s ID number, social security number, academic work completed, grades, achievement test scores, aptitude test scores, health data, or other personal characteristics or information which would make the student’s identity easily traceable. Prior consent, in the form of a signed and dated document, must be provided by the student to authorize the College to disclose personally identifiable information. The consent must specify records that may be disclosed, should state purpose of disclosure, and must identify party or class of parties to whom disclosure may be made.
    2. Directory Information: FERPA allows for the disclosure of directory information as identified by the institution. SRC has designated the student’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, photograph, date of birth, major field of study, enrollment status, dates of attendance, most recent education agency or institution attended, degrees, honors and awards received, height and weight of student athletes, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports as directory information. The College will disclose directory information only, upon request, to other educational colleges and/or universities. A student has the right to refuse designation of any or all of this directory information by submitting a Request to Withhold Directory Information form to the Director of Enrollment Services.
  6. Exceptions: FERPA allows for the release of student records without written consent of the student under the following conditions:
    1. To school officials with legitimate educational interest. The College has designated school officials such as faculty, administration, professional employees, support staff, work-study students, or persons employed by or under contract to the College (example: an attorney or auditor) acting as an official agent of the College to perform a business function or service on behalf of the institution. A school official is determined to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for that official to:
      1. perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement;
      2. perform a task related to a student’s education;
      3. perform a task related to the discipline of a student;
      4. provide a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid;
      5. identify tasks that must be determined to be consistent with the purposes for which the data are maintained; and/or
      6. maintain safety and security on campus.

      Requests related to institutional research and studies are subject to this criterion. Disclosure to a school official having a legitimate education interest does not constitute institutional authorization to transmit, share, or disclose any or all information received to a third party. An unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education record of the students is prohibited.

    2. In compliance with a court order or subpoena.
    3. Parents of dependent students.Parents of dependent students may have the right to gain access to information in student education records.  For purposes of FERPA, the College limits the student education record information that may be released (without the student’s specific written permission) to Directory Information and specific data elements only.A student must have indicated that either parent claimed him/her as a tax dependent on an application for financial aid (FAFSA).  Otherwise, the parent must provide a copy of the most recently completed Federal Income Tax Return indicating that the student in question was claimed as a dependent.The College defines a dependent as a student that is considered dependent on a parent according to IRS guidelines (as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954). In addition, the College will assume dependency for students enrolled in the dual enrollment program. Dependency status will be verified through the use of financial aid records maintained in the shared drive or by requesting IRS records from a student’s parent.  If dependency cannot be determined, a signed release from the student will be required.The following information may be released to the parents of dependent college students:
      1. tuition account balances.
      2. financial aid eligibility.
      3. student’s schedule of classes.
      4. reason for an account hold.
      5. explanation of satisfactory academic progress status.

      Directory information can be released to parents without verifying dependency status. The College will respond to phone or in-person inquiries by the parents of dependent students.

      If for any reason staff does not feel comfortable releasing information over the phone, the caller should be referred to the staff member’s immediate supervisor, the Dean of Student Services, or the Registrar.

    4. To schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll (the College will make an attempt to notify the student that records are being provided).
    5. To the Comptroller General of the United States.
    6. To the Attorney General of the United States.
    7. To the Secretary of the Department of Education.
    8. Federal, State, and Local educational authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs.
    9. In connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid (such as the administration or continuation of aid) and organizations associated with providing financial aid to a student.
    10. In the event of a health or safety emergency where the information is required to resolve the emergency.
    11. That is considered directory information, so long as the student has not requested nondisclosure of this information.
    12. That is a result of a disciplinary hearing where the student is the perpetrator crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense. Under this exception, information may be released to anyone, including the media. No information on the victim or witnesses may be released.
    13. Of a student under the age of 21 who has committed a drug or alcohol related offense (e.g. reporting the offense to the parents of the student).
    14. To an alleged victim of a crime of violence (as defined in 18 U.S.C. Sect 16) or non-forcible sex offense, the final results of the alleged student perpetrator’s disciplinary proceeding may be released.
    15. Federal and state government agencies and officials, accrediting agencies and organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies if conducted so as not to permit the personal identification of any individual student.
    16. Schools or colleges to which the student is currently enrolled (dual enrollment, consortium agreements).
    17. Release of information requested under the terms of the Patriot Act.
  7. Right to File a Complaint: A student has a right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. There are two basic requirements for a complaint to be properly filed against and institution in relation to FERPA infractions:
    1. The complaint must be made within 180 day of when the infraction was discovered.
    2. There must be sufficient facts (evidence) to prove the violation. The Family Policy Compliance Office, U. S. Department of Education, 400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605 is the office responsible for enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and should be contacted to file a complaint.
  8. Students Right-to-Know: The Student Right-To-Know Act of 1990 requires the College to compile and release completion, graduation, and transfer-out rates to all students. This information is available from the office of Admissions and Records.