Access to Student Records

Access to Student Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA, seeks to ensure the privacy of your educational records. The act grants you the right to: 1) inspect and review your education records, 2) seek to amend your education records and 3) have some control over the disclosure of information from your education records. The act applies to all institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

What are educational records?

Education records are data or records, in any form or medium, which are maintained by personnel of the college that are directly related to you and may be shared with, or are accessible to, another individual. Education records include, but are not limited to, academic evaluations, student examination papers, transcripts, test scores, counseling and advising records, disciplinary records, financial aid records, student loan collection records and student financial statements. Some records that do not fit this definition include: an instructor’s “desk notes,” Student Life records that relate to law enforcement, medical records, employment records and alumni records.

Can I inspect my records?

You have the right to inspect your educational records with these exceptions:

  1. Your parents’ financial statement(s).
  2. Letters and statements of recommendation for which you waived your right of access.
  3. Any records containing information on several students, in which case you may inspect only that part that pertains to you.
  4. Any other records that are excluded from the FERPA definition of educational records.

You may inspect your educational records by contacting the office where they are stored. The custodian (keeper) of the record has the right to ask you to submit a written request, though that is often not necessary. By law, you must be given access to the requested record within 45 days of the receipt of your request. But typically you will be able to see it within a much shorter time if not immediately. The college may not destroy any record for which a request for access is pending.

What can I do if I think my records are incorrect?

Follow this procedure to seek to change your record:

  1. Contact the custodian of the record in question. Identify in writing the part of the record you think is incorrect. Specify why you believe the record is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of your rights.
  2. The custodian will review your request. If the request is granted, you will be notified and a statement correcting the information will be added to your record. The statement will be treated in all respects as a part of your record.
  3. If your request is denied, you will be notified of the decision and the reason. You will also be informed that you have the right to follow the college’s grievance policy to challenge the custodian’s decision.
  4. If, after a hearing, the decision is still not to amend your record, you have the right to insert a statement in the record even though the record itself has not been changed.

What is “directory information” at Hesston College?

Directory information is limited to items which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. “Directory Information” is defined by the college to include the following: student name, names of parents or spouse, local and permanent addresses, local and permanent telephone numbers, email address, birth month and day, program of study, classification, current enrollment status and number of hours carried, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees earned and dates of degrees, awards received, most recent previous school attended and photo image. Directory information cannot include a social security number, a student ID number, race/ethnicity or gender.

Can I restrict the release of information about me?

At the beginning of each fall semester (or any other term in which you begin), you will be reminded of your rights under FERPA. You will have the opportunity to ask that certain kinds of information defined as “directory information” not be disclosed without your consent. To prevent such disclosure, you must notify the registrar’s office by the end of the fifth day of the semester. Notification must be in writing by completing and signing a FERPA Directory Information Restriction form (available from the registrar’s office) and delivering it to registrar’s office staff. To the extent possible, the college will honor restriction requests received after the fifth day. Your restriction will remain in effect until you remove it in writing through one of the above means. As long as the restriction is in effect, no directory information will be released without your written permission, except in the following situations.

Is information about me ever released without my consent?

Information may be released without your consent in situations such as the following:

  • To college personnel who have a legitimate educational interest in you. College personnel include administrators, faculty, staff, a student employed or asked to serve on an institutional committee and persons under contract to the college such as an attorney or auditor. To claim legitimate educational interest, the personnel must be in a position such that information from your record is needed to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities.
  • To certain officials of the federal, state and local governments, to loan providers and others where required by law.
  • To organizations or individuals conducting research on behalf of the college, provided that the studies are conducted in a manner that will not permit personal identification of you and your parents by persons other than those doing the research and that all records of a personal nature are destroyed when the study is completed.
  • To your parents if they claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena provided the college is within the jurisdiction of the agency. In such cases, the college will make reasonable efforts to notify you before the information is released.
  • To accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting function.
  • To appropriate parties as necessary to ensure your health and safety and that of others.
  • To an alleged victim of a crime of violence, notifying them of the results of any institutional disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator with respect to that crime.

Where can I file a complaint if I feel that the college has violated my rights?

Complaints may be filed with

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920

Or on the student privacy website,

Handbook 2023-24