FERPA for Students
What are FERPA rights?
Students have three primary rights under FERPA. They have the rights to: inspect and review their education records; have some control over the disclosure of information from their education record, and seek to amend their education records, under certain circumstances.
When do FERPA rights begin?
A student's FERPA rights begin when the student is matriculated. NOTE: Students who originally sought admission to one program of study at the Institute and are denied, but subsequently are admitted and enrolled in a different program of study have FERPA rights only in their admitted/enrolled program of study.
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.
Withholding the Release of Information
According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request. At Caltech, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Request To Restrict Directory Information form (PDF), available at the Office of the Registrar. Students have the choice of restricting online 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 THIS ACTION COULD HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES. The names of students who have restricted their directory information 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 your directory information and will be told, "I'm sorry, but we have no information available about this person's attendance at Caltech."
Parent's Access to Students' Records
At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At Caltech, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student (PDF) or in compliance with a subpoena. Caltech will notify parents when an undergraduate student is no longer enrolled.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.
Please contact the Office of the Registrar with general questions, comments or suggestions.