FERPA Frequently Asked Questions

What is FERPA?
FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment. The intent of the act is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of “education records”. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.
What are education records?

Education records are protected by FERPA and only discussed with the student. An education record is any record, with exceptions, maintained by the college that directly relate to a student or students. An education record contains information from which a student (or students) can be personally identified.

Student education records include files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by any employee or department of CCS. Education records exist in many forms including typed copy, computer-generated copy, video, audio, film, paper, electronic, data, etc.
Examples of Education records include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal Information
  • Grades
  • Class lists/rosters
  • Student course schedules
  • Referrals and Academic forms
  • Disciplinary Records
  • Financial Records
  • Enrollment Records
  • Student payroll records
  • Emails to, from, or about a student

Student Education records do not include: Medical treatment records, Alumni records, Employment records (that are not related to student status), sole possession documents (such as personal notes created by faculty or staff), law enforcement records.

What is personally identifiable information for education records?

Personally identifiable information for education records is a FERPA term referring to identifiable information that is maintained in education records and includes direct identifiers, such as a student’s name or identification number, indirect identifiers, such as a student’s date of birth, or other information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity either directly or indirectly through linkages with other information.

Who has access to education records?

Education records can be accessed by “school/college officials” who have a “legitimate educational interest” to the student, and need to review the records in order to fulfill their professional responsibility to the college or job duties. School officials may not disclose student records (personally identifiable information) without a signed and written consent from the student unless the records are identified as directory information. A student may submit an “Authorization to Release” student records to the Academic Advising & Registration Office if they request the college to release information to a specific person, company, or agency.

What is a "school/college official?"

A “school or college official” is any person employed by CCS in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support position; a person elected to the Board of Trustees; a student or CCS graduate serving on an official CCS committee or assisting another college official in performing tasks; or a person employed by or under contract to, or serving as an agent of, CCS to perform a specific task.

What are legitimate educational interests?

Legitimate educational interest is when a school/college official has a legitimate reason (or need) to access student records to carry out their responsibilities, as required and outlined within their job duties; considered on a “need to know” basis that is essential in performing an administrative, supervisory, or instructional task.

Legitimate educational interest is limited and should be used within boundaries:

  • Curiosity is not a legitimate educational interest. Staff should not view records just because the access is available, it should only be used in relation to satisfying a necessary task.
  • All CCS employees do not have legitimate educational interest needs. The “need to know” of a CCS employee must relate to the job responsibilities and in context of official college business for the student.
  • Access to information does not authorize unrestricted use.
When do FERPA rights begin?

FERPA rights begin for a newly enrolled student on the first day of class and continue throughout their time at CCS. FERPA rights apply to all students current and former who have enrolled and attended CCS in person, remotely, by video conference, internet; any and all electronic technologies are included in FERPA.

FERPA rights do not apply to prospective students or applicants to any academic program at CCS.

What is directory information?

Directory Information is personally identifiable information from student records that can be released without the student’s consent. An institution is not obligated to release directory information. FERPA only stipulates that an institution may release information. Examples of directory information include: Name, dates of attendance, field of study, etc. The CCS FERPA Policy outlines what is defined as “Directory Information”. Students may request to “withhold” directory information if they do not want it released by submitting the required form to the Academic Advising & Registration Office.

What happens when a student requests to “withhold” directory information?

Students who wish to “withhold” directory information (and request that their name, field of study, or other records defined as directory information not be released) will have a flag placed on their records so no personal information is disclosed.

It is important that students understand the consequences of withholding directory information. Directory information will be available only to college faculty and staff on a “need to know” basis.

  • Any future request for directory information from non-institutional persons, organizations, other students, or relatives will be denied.
  • Verification of enrollment or to confirm degrees earned for possible employment, insurance purposes, galleries/businesses, etc., will be denied.
  • The student’s name will not appear in the Commencement Program or other college publications.
  • Loan agencies and external scholarship agencies will be denied directory information.
  • Withhold requests will remain effective until the student cancels the request in writing to the Academic Advising & Registration Office (including after graduation, leave of absence, etc).

If a student chooses to maintain the “withhold”, but desires to release directory information or other student records to a specific company, agency or person on a “one-time” basis; they may do so by contacting the Academic Advising & Registration Office to submit a request in writing.

Can a parent/guardian, spouse or family member access a student’s education records?

FERPA protects student records and unless the student signs an “Authorization to Release” form to allow the disclosure of student records, the information cannot be released. Only Directory Information can be released to a parent/guardian, spouse, or family member. In the event the student has requested to “withhold” the Directory Information, then it cannot be released.

Students have the option to set-up proxy access for Self-Service to allow view-only access for billing and financial aid accounts. Additionally, information about student records should be communicated directly between the student and their desired parent/family member.

What if a parent/family member wants to contact an instructor to discuss a student’s progress?

Faculty may not disclose the student’s progress or educational records, as this is protected by FERPA. The student must have a signed FERPA release authorization on file in order for the college to release grades, attendance, or other academic matters.

Students should communicate directly with their parents/family to discuss course progress. The faculty will only communicate academic matters directly with the student.

Why do parents/guardians have limited access to student records? Does it make a difference that we pay the tuition bill?

Once a student turns 18 or attends a college-level educational institution, rights for access to educational records are transferred to the student. FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education which outlines FERPA regulations for institutions.

Students may grant proxy access in Self-Service so parents can view financial aid and billing information.

Parents/Family members may communicate with the student directly to discuss academic matters or concerns. 

Are parents/guardians notified when students are placed on academic probation or suspension?

No. Information about grades, academic progress (including probation and suspension) are sent directly to the student. Parents/Family members may communicate with the student directly to discuss academic matters or concerns.

Where are FERPA related forms located?

FERPA forms for current students are located on Blackboard under Academic Advising & Registration.

Who can I contact with questions about FERPA, student privacy and/or directory information?

Contact the Academic Advising & Registration Office at 313.664.7672 or email . Contact the Registrar directly at .