The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. City Colleges of Chicago requires all full and part-time officers, faculty, and staff to adhere to the federal guidelines regarding the privacy of student education records under FERPA. Specifically, the law requires higher education institutions to:
- Maintain the privacy of and security of student records
- Provide students access to their education records upon request
- Allow students to correct inaccurate or misleading information in their records
- Limit the release of records to third parties without the express, written consent of the student
What You Need to Know
Rights Granted Under FERPA
Students who reach the age of 18 or any student who attends a higher education institution are covered under FERPA. A student's FERPA rights begin once the college receives an application for admission. Parents may be granted access to a student's education records if the student has authorized and signed a FERPA Release Flag or if the student is listed as a dependent of either parent for tax purposes.
Eligible students and parents have the right to:
- Inspect and review educational records maintained by the college
- Request corrections to education records
- Request a formal hearing if the institution decides not to amend or correct an education record
- Place a statement with the educational record concerning the contested information
- File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or party acting on behalf of the agency or institution. FERPA generally prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from a student's education records.
Exceptions to FERPA
Colleges must have written permission from a student or parent to release any information included in a student's education records. However, there are exceptions that permit colleges to disclose a student's education records without their consent. Colleges may provide student's education records to:
- College officials with legitimate education interests
- Other education institutions to which a student is transferring
- Officials using records for audit or evaluations
- Appropriate parties providing a student's financial aid
- Organizations conducting approved studies for, or on behalf of, the college
- Accrediting organizations
- Comply with judicial order or lawfully issues subpoena
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to a specific state law
Student directory information is not protected under FERPA. Students or parents may request non-disclosure of directory information, which will "flag" this information in CCC's Student PeopleSoft system. Without a request for non-disclosure, this information may be shared without prior consent:
- Student name
- Telephone number
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Enrollment status (full or part-time)
- Classification (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
- Type of degree pursued
- Participation in athletics programs
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
How CCC Complies With FERPA Requirements
CCC will require all employees, including administrators, faculty, staff, engineers, and security personnel to complete FERPA training through an online assessment tool. The online tool provides information on FERPA guidelines and allows employees to test their knowledge using real-world scenarios. Completing this program will satisfy the FERPA training requirement.
FERPA Compliance - Quick Tips
- Keep confidential papers, files, and records in a secure, locked cabinet or storage area.
- Be aware of others who may overhear your conversations about a student's education records or come across this information on your computer screen.
- Do not leave grade assignments unattended or in a public place.
- Never ask for or use student Social Security information.
- Do not disclose protected information in a letter of recommendation
- Do not download protected information to an external device (e.g. laptop, tablet, USB drive, phone, etc.).
- Before providing student information to a parent or external party, contact the college's Registrar to ensure that the release of the student's information is permissible and/or falls within a FERPA exception, or the student has provided written authorization to release the records.
Legal Issues or Complaints
All CCC employees are held accountable for the protection and privacy of student education records. If you have a legal question or complaint or believe a CCC employee has committed a FERPA violation, please contact Alexandra Relias (Attorney, CCC Office of the General Counsel) at (312) 553-2803.
You may also contact the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) at 1 (800) 872-5327, or write to the DOE at the following address:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520