The Family Educational Rights and Privacey Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
Bismarck State Colleges requires all its employees to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Please contact Academic Records if you have any questions:
BSC FERPA Release Form (PDF)
BSC FERPA One Time Release Form (PDF)
The following information must be carefully reviewed by anyone requesting access to student records.
What is FERPA?
The Basics of FERPA
What are the Students Rights?
What is Personally Identifiable Information?
What are Educational Records?
What are not Educational Records?
What is Written Consent?
What is Directory Information at BSC?
What is Legitimate Educational Interest?
Who are School Officials?
What are Parental Rights under FERPA?
Special note for Faculty: FERPA Dont's
What is FERPA?
A federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
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- Student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of a student.
- As a staff or faculty member with access to these records, you have the responsibility to protect them while in your possession.
- Some information is considered public (directory information) and may be released without the student's written permission. However, the student has the right to restrict this information as well. Do not release directory information without checking to be sure it is not restricted. If you do not know how, be sure to call the Academic Records Office for more information.
- Access to these records is for legitimate educational interest only, for the purposes of completing your responsibilities as an employee of the institution completing BSC job responsibilities.
- If you are in doubt about releasing student information, DO NOT release the information until you have contacted the Academic Records Office at 224-5420.
The Basics of FERPA
- College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records.
- School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their records without written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the act.
What are the students rights?
- The right to respect and review their education report.
- The right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases, append a statement to the record.
- The right to limit disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their record.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
What is personally identifiable information?
- The name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members.
- The student's address
- A personal identifier (such as a social security number or id).
- A list of personal characteristics or any other information which would make the student identifiable.
What are educational records?
ANY record, file, document or other material (handwritten, tape, disks, film, etc.) which contains information directly related to a student's academic progress, student financial information, student worker information, medical condition or personal interest item. IT IS MORE THAN JUST THE ACADEMIC RECORD, and is NOT confined to the student's file in the Registrar's or college office and may include, but not limited to:
- A document with the student's name and ID
- Personal information
- Tests and other graded projects
- A computer printout
- A class list
- A computer display screen
- Notes taken during advisement session
What are NOT educational records?
- Sole possession records: Records (desk drawer notes) of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and not revealed to anyone.
- Law enforcement unit records: Records of our campus law enforcement unit created and maintained separately and used solely for law enforcement purposes.
- Employment records: Records relating to persons who are employees. NOTE: Records of individuals who are employed as a result of their status as students (e.g. work-study or graduate assistant) are education records.
- Medical records: Records kept and maintained by a health care professional, used solely in connection with treatment and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment. These records are protected by HIPAA.
- Alumni records: Records created by an institution after a student has left the institution.
What is written consent?
BSC shall obtain written consent from students before disclosing any personally identifiable information from their education records. Faxed requests are legal written release. The written consent must:
- Specify the records to be released
- State the purpose of the disclosure
- Identify the party or parties to whom disclosure may be made
- Be signed and dated by the student and retained
- Information not normally considered a violation of a person's privacy.
- Students must be notified of the items of directory information
- Students must be given the opportunity to request that directory information not be released. The right of non-disclosure applies to directory information only.
- If in doubt, don't release any information and contact BSC Academic Records Office for guidance.
What is directory information at BSC?
- Name (all names on record)
- Address (all addresses on record)
- E-mail address (all electronic addresses on record)
- Phone number (all phone numbers on record)
- Height, weight, and photos of athletic team members
- Date & place of birth
- Major field of study (all declared majors)
- Minor field of study (all declared minors)
- Class level
- Dates of attendance
- Enrollment status (full time or part-time)
- Names of previous institutions attended
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Honors/awards received
- Degree earned (all degree earned)
- Date degree earned (dates of all degrees earned)
- Photographic, video, or electronic images of students taken and maintained by the institution
What is legitimate educational interest?
- A "legitimate educational interest" is when a faculty, staff or other school office is:
- Performing a task that is specified in their position description or contract
- Performing a task related to a student's education or to a student discipline
- Providing a service or benefit related to the student
- It DOES NOT include
- Accessing information for any other purpose
- Viewing previous records/grades to see how a student performed
- Viewing a relatives (son/daughter/spouse etc....) academic record to find out how they did in class
- Examples of "legitimate educational interest" include:
- Faculty /staff on committees (retention committee, scholarship committee, etc...)
- An academic advisor who needs to review a student's educational record to determine what courses have been and /or need to be completed
- ALL RECORDS OF ALL STUDENTS are not open to all faculty or staff at the institution.
Who are school officials?
A school official can be a person:
- Employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement and health staff personnel)
- Or company employed by or under contract to the college to perform a special task such as the attorney, auditor, or collection agency
- Or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee.
- Or employees of the North Dakota Attorney General's Office providing representation to BSC.
What are parental rights under FERPA?
- When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending post-secondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.
- Parents may obtain non-directory information when their student has provided a signed consent to the institution.
Special note for faculty: FERPA dont's
To avoid violations of FERPA rules:
- Don't display student scores or grades publicly
- Don't link the name of a student with any part of that student's social security number or ID in any public manner
- Don't leave graded papers and tests unattended or have students sort through papers of other students to reach their own
- Don't circulate a printed class list with student name and social security number, student ID, or grades as an attendance roster
- Don't discuss the progress of a student with anyone other than the student (including parents/spouses/employers) without the consent of the student
- Don't provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for commercial or any other purpose
- Don't provide anyone with a student's schedule or assist anyone in finding a student on campus. Refer inquiries to the Academic Records Office.