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Family Education Rights and Privacy Act - Frequently Asked Questions

What is FERPA?
Who is covered under FERPA?
What is an "educational record"?
What is not an "educational record"?
Who has access to a student's "educational record"?
What is "directory information"?
What are the student's rights as related to his or her "educational record"?
What about "emergency situations"?
Can a student request that even "directory information" not be released without the student's written authorization?
How can parent(s)/guardian(s)s/guardian(s)s have access to student's "educational records"?
Where can I find the ONU policy on FERPA?
Who can I contact at ONU regarding FERPA?
Where can I find more information about FERPA?

What is FERPA?

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended also referred to as The Buckley Amendment.

  1. Passed in 1974; amended several times since then, predominantly in the 1990's
  2. Designed to protect the privacy of education records and to provide information to parent(s)(s)/guardian(s)(s) (primary or secondary education) or to students (higher education)
  3. FERPA applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
  4. Intended that students' rights be broadly defined and exceptions narrowly construed
  5. There is some institutional flexibility.

Who is covered under FERPA?

  • A person's "educational record" is covered under FERPA starting when the person is "in attendance" at a post-secondary institution, i.e., becomes a student (i.e., enrolls or registers for one or more classes) at the institution.
  • FERPA does not apply to records of applicants to the University.
  • Coverage under FERPA ends at the person's death.

What is an "educational record"?

An educational record is, with limited exceptions; any record from which a student can be identified and maintained by the institution or an authorized party.  Educational records include any records in the possession of an employee that is shared with or accessible to another employee.  The records can be handwritten, print, magnetic tape, film, diskette, electronic image or other format or medium.
The most commonly thought of documents are the grade report and transcript.

What is not an "educational record"?

The following documents and information are not part of the student's "educational record".

Law enforcement or Campus Security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes.

  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless employment is contingent upon school attendance)
  • Records related to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment
  • Records of the institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at the institution (alumni records)
  • Documents that are sole possession records or private notes of educational personnel that are not accessible or released to other personnel (e.g. a faculty member's grade book)
  • Financial information submitted by parent(s)/guardian(s)(s)
  • Letters of recommendation to which the student has waived right to access, inspect or review.

Who has access to a student's "educational record"?

  1. Ohio Northern University must have a release an educational record signed by the student to release to a third party
  2. When is prior consent not required?
    • Legitimate educational interest - "need to know"
    • Disclosure to another institution where student seeks to enroll or is enrolled (may release but is not required)
    • Attorney general of the United States
    • Comptroller general of the United States
    • Secretary of the Department of Education of the United States
    • Disclosure to DOE, state or local education authorities
    • Disclosure in connection with the receipt of financial aid
    • Disclosure to state/local officials in conjunction with legislative requirements
    • Disclosure to organizations conducting studies to improve instruction, etc.
    • Disclosure to accrediting organizations
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
    • Disclosure for health or safety emergency
    • Disclosure of directory information 
    • Disclosure to the alleged victim, information from disciplinary proceedings disclosure
    • Recent expansion for release of info for crime of violence (may release but is not required)
    • Disclosure to parent(s)/guardian(s)s of any student under the age of 21, a violation of Federal, state, local or institutional laws or regulations related to substance abuse.
    • Disclosure to U.S. military recruiters in accordance with the Solomon Amendment.

What is "directory information"?

Ohio Northern University has designated directory information, according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, to be the student's:

  1. Name
  2. Permanent and local address and phone numbers
  3. Field(s) of study (major(s), minor(s), degree(s), concentration(s) ) and college of enrollment
  4. Degree, honors, awards and dates received
  5. Class (year of study)
  6. Dates of attendance
  7. Most recent institution attended
  8. Previous degree(s) earned and granting institution(s)
  9. Participation in officially recognized activities and/or sports
  10. Height and weight of members of athletic teams
  11. Enrollment status (full-time or part-time )
  12. E-mail address
  13. Picture
  14. parent(s)/guardian(s)s' name and address

The University uses some directory information in publishing the Ohio Northern University Telephone Directory and for news releases from the Office of Public Information.
The Ohio Northern University Telephone Directory is a searchable directory located on the ONU web site. 

What are the student's rights as related to educational records?

Five basic rights of students under the Act:

  1. Inspection and review of their records
  2. Amend an incorrect record
  3. Consent to disclosure (with exceptions)
  4. File a complaint with DOE
  5. Obtain a copy of the institution's policy 

What about emergency situations?

If a student is in a life threatening situation and parent(s)/guardian(s)s have not already been notified by health or security personnel the Office of Student Affairs will make every effort to contact the parent(s)/guardian(s)s.
If the parent(s)/guardian(s)s have an emergency situation in which they need to contact the student, the Campus Security Office will make every effort to contact the student and have the student contact the parent(s)/guardian(s)(s).

Can a student request that even directory information not be released without the student's written authorization?

  • Yes, the student can complete a Request for Non-Disclosure and submit it to the Office of the Registrar for processing.
  • If a student elects confidentiality and non-disclosure then any inquiry to the University about the student will be responded with "We have no information on that individual."
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure will stop the student's information from inclusion in the University directory.
  • If a student elects confidentiality and non-disclosure it remains in effect until the student requests its removal or dies. If it is not removed prior to or at graduation time, the University will not be able to respond to prospective employers inquiries.

How can parent(s)/guardian(s) have access to student educational records?

FERPA gives parent(s)/guardian(s) certain rights with respect to their children's educational record.
These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level (regardless of age).
Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

Parent(s)/guardian(s) should have or develop a relationship of trust and mutual responsibility with their student.

  • parent(s)/guardian(s) should ask their student directly for this information.
  • The student has a unique username and password, which combine to provide secure access to the ONU Internet portal and this information.
  • The student's schedule of classes, term grades and complete transcript are available through Self-Service Banner.
  • The student can sign a release document authorizing her or his college dean, advisor, faculty or others to discuss her or his 'educational record' with her or his parent(s)/guardian(s).
  • A student can request a transcript be mailed to a desired address through Self-Service Banner.
  • The student can also print an unofficial transcript directly from Self-Service Banner.
  • Information protected by FERPA cannot be discussed on the telephone. 

Where can I find ONU Policy On FERPA?

 Information can be obtained directly from the Office of the Registrar.

Office of the Registrar
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810

Phone:  419-772-2024

Who can I contact at ONU regarding FERPA?

Office of the Registrar
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810

Where can I find more information about FERPA?

More information can be found at the U.S. Department of Education's Web site .

If you have questions not addressed in this FAQ please email the Registrar's Office =center>