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What is FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.  FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.  These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.  Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.”

Solomon Amendment [32 CFR Part 16] published October 28, 1998, and interim rule [65 Fed Reg 2056] published January 13, 2000, gives branches of the military access to student directory information which would have been denied them under FERPA

Link to CSU Channel Islands FERPA Authorization form. (PDF, 318KB)

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What are education records?

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 by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.

Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:

  • sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
  • medical treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists;
  • employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment;
  • records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose, are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records;
  • post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.

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Access to student education records

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student are:

  • birth date
  • religious affiliation
  • citizenship
  • disciplinary status
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • grade point average (GPA)
  • marital status
  • SSN/student I.D.
  • grades/exam scores
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)

The university will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization permitting the parents' access. Exceptions are noted in the university's policy (located in the Vice President for Student Affairs office) concerning the privacy of student education records and includes: access by "school officials" who the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest;" access by school officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll; access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

At CSU Channel Islands these terms are defined below:

"University official" is any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, a student serving on an official university committee, or a person employed by or under contract to the university to perform a specific task. A "university official" has a "legitimate educational interest" whenever he or she is performing a task that is specified in his or her position description, or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student's education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family (such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid) or disclosure of information in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena.

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Student's right to review and correct his/her records

Students and former students have rights to inspect and review their education records within 45 days from making a written request. The right of inspection and review includes: the right to access, with an explanation and interpretation of the record; the right to a copy of the education record when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record. The University reserves the right not to provide copies of transcripts it has received from other education institutions.  It also reserves the right to deny copies of the University transcripts if the student has an unpaid financial obligation to the University. Limitations exist on students' rights to inspect and review their education records. For example, the University reserves the right to refuse permission to the inspection and review of: 

  • Financial statements of the student’s parents;
  • Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the education record before January 1, 1975, if the student has waived his or her right to inspect and review those letters and statements, and the letters and statements relate to the student’s admission to an educational institution, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition; or
  • Confidential letters and confidential statements placed in the education record after January 1, 1975 for which the student has waived the right of access in writing for admission, employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition, except when these documents have been used for any purpose other than that for which they were originally intended; and
  • Documents excluded from the FERPA definition of education records (such as those listed in the “Definitions” section above.)

Students may request that their education records be amended if they believe such information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. Students must request in writing that the office that maintains those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the records they want corrected and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. That office will review the request and inform the students in a reasonable amount of time after receiving the request. If the records custodian refuses to amend the record, students have the right to a hearing. A hearing officer appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs will conduct the hearing. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the request for the hearing has been received. The hearing officer will notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

For the complete policy, which includes the review, amendment and appeal processes, visit Policy on Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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Types, Locations, and Custodian of Education Record

TypesLocationsCustodian of Record
Academic (e.g., transcript, transfer work, class schedule, degree requirements, probation, petitions, etc.)

Registrar's Office

Enrollment Center, Sage Hall, Room 1020

Associate/Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management

Student Conduct & Community Responsibility     

Bell Tower

Student Conduct Administrator
Campus Assessment Response and Evaluation (CARE) Team

Dean of Students

Bell Tower

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students

Financial Aid

Financial Aid office

Enrollment Center, Sage Hall, Room 1020

Director of Financial Aid
Student Housing, Tenant, and Disciplinary

Housing & Residential Education

Santa Cruz Village

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Housing & Residential Education
Student Accounts 

Student Financial Services

Lindero Hall

Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs

Career Development Services

Bell Tower, Room 1865

Coordinator of Career Development Services
Student Life (e.g. Career Counseling, EOP/Student Support services, PATH Program, etc.)

Dean of Students

Bell Tower

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students
Student Payroll

Human Resources

Lindero Hall

Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Public Safety

Transportation & Parking Services

Placer Hall

Chief of Police
Occasional (e.g., correspondence in office not listed above)University staff will direct the student to the location that maintains recordsAssociate/Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management
VeteransSage HallAssociate/Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management

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What is directory or public information?

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent.

CSU Channel Islands has designated the following information as directory information and may release this information, unless the student has submitted a request for non-disclosure:

  • Student's name
  • University email address
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Full-time or part-time status
  • Degrees, awards, and honors received
  • Dates and degrees conferred
  • Enrollment status (class level)
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletics teams

For Student Employees:

  • department where employed
  • employee status (i.e., Graduate Assistant, Instructional Student Assistant, Teaching Associate)

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Restricting release of directory information

According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled. At CSU Channel Islands, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a "Request To Restrict Directory Information" form, available in the Enrollment Center of the Professional Building. Students have the choice of restricting on-line student directory information, or they can restrict the release of all of their directory information. The completed form must be submitted in person to the Registrar's office and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. Students will be required to renew the request at the beginning of each academic year.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that their names will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other university publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of the student's directory information and will be informed that we have no information available about the student's attendance at CSU Channel Islands. Students who wish to have specific directory information released may do so by providing a written authorization to the Registrar's Office.

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Annual notification to students

Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, CSU Channel Islands annually notifies students of the rights accorded them by FERPA. CSU Channel Islands students are notified of their FERPA rights in the University Catalog.

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Faculty and Staff Access

All faculty and staff, as well as any other agents of the university who request access to student academic records, must submit a signed acknowledgment form. Access to student records, including the academic records database, will be denied until the form is submitted. The form is intended to insure that anyone accessing student records understands the obligations under FERPA for proper use and protection of student records.

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General questions may be directed to Enrollment Management- Registrar Office. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to Enrollment Management, 805-437-8500, Sage Hall- Enrollment Center.

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Filing a complaint

If a parent or eligible student feels that the institution has not fully honored his/her privacy rights under FERPA, a written complaint may be filed with the Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. The Family Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.

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