Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
Rights to Privacy
Educational records of students are maintained officially by the WPI Office of the Registrar. Faculty and staff members may also keep informal records related to their functional role with a student. The education records of WPI students are considered confidential. Right of access to these records is protected under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.
Provisions of FERPA
In summary, this law provides:
- the right of access to their educational records by persons who currently attend or have attended WPI.
- the right to inspect, review and obtain copies of most records.
- the right to challenge the content of a record.
- the right to waive access to certain items, if a person believes this would be beneficial.
- the right to know what records are kept, under whose jurisdiction and for what period of time.
Protections Under the Law
FERPA guards students' and former students' interests through the following provisions:
- requires written consent before release of your records, such as transcripts, to others.
- requires maintenance of records of all requests for information from your file and indicates reasons for and disposition of the requests. You may inspect this record.
- stipulates to the recipient of your record that it may not be released to any one else without your written consent. It also bars use of your record for any purpose other than those specified in the original release.
- requires public notice of those elements of school directory information that will be released without the student's consent and provides the student the right to refuse release of this information.
Students Right of Access to Their Own Records
Students and former students are entitled to review, inspect and obtain copies of their educational records (with some limitations). FERPA defines education records as: "records which: (1) are directly related to a student, and (2) are maintained by an educational agency or institution."
Disclosure of Records
For the most part, student records may be released only upon receipt of written consent from the student. Records may be released without the student's consent, however, to school officials who have legitimate education interest in the records. A school official is defined as a person who is employed by the university in:
- an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, or
- employed by or under contract to the university to perform a special task.
Legitimate educational interest is defined as performing a task that is specified in a university job description or contract agreement as it relates to a student's education. Examples of this are:
- Officials of another school, upon request, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll
- Officials of any federally-supported program or individual acting on their behalf
- Financial aid officials in regard to a student's request or receipt of financial aid in determining eligibility, amounts, conditions or enforcement of the terms of conditions
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the university
- Accrediting organizations to carry out their functions
- To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena
- Appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency
- An alleged victim of any crime of violence, as stated by law, and the results of any disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university against the alleged perpetrator of that crime with respect to that crime
The items listed below are designated as “Directory Information”: campus mailbox, full name, year, major, advisor, e-mail address, permanent address, local address, local phone, photograph, date and place of birth, dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees and awards received, and most recent or previous educational agency or institution.
Under the provisions of FERPA, the university is permitted to release Directory Information without a student's consent. A student, however, has the right to restrict the disclosure of any or all of their Directory Information.
Written notification to withhold Directory Information must be received by the Registrar’s Office during the first week of the fall semester/A term. Forms are available in the Registrar’s Office or on the Registrar’s website. A request to restrict the disclosure of Directory Information does not restrict internal use of such by the university.