FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 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.
What kind of records does FERPA protect?
FERPA applies to personally identifiable information in education records. Any record - in any medium, including handwriting and email - which is directly related to a student and maintained by the University of South Dakota, a school or college of the University of South Dakota, or party acting on behalf of USD is considered an education record.
Education records do not include the following:
- Sole possession records - records kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record;
- Student Health Services, Student Counseling Center, Counseling and Family Therapy Center, Psychological Services Center, TRIO Program, and Office of Disability Services records maintained solely for the purpose of that department;
- University Police Department records; and
- Alumni records collected about an individual after that person is no longer in attendance at the University of South Dakota.
What is included in Directory Information?
FERPA allows certain information — known as directory information — to be disclosed without the student's permission. At the University of South Dakota, directory information includes the following items:
- Student name
- Major field of study
- Past and present participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate, full- or part-time)
- Dates of attendance
- Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
- Honors and awards received (but not scholarships)
- Most recent school(s) attended
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
Who has access to student educational records?
According to FERPA, non-directory information may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Exceptions are listed in the USD student handbook and USD student records policy and include the following:
- School officials with legitimate educational interest
- Other schools to which a student is transferring
- Specified educational officials for audit or evaluation purposes
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of USD
- Accrediting organizations
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
What are my student rights under FERPA?
FERPA provides you with certain rights with respect to your education records:
- the right to inspect and review your education records
- the right to request to amend your education records to ensure that they are not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy or other rights
- the right to a hearing if your request to correct an alleged inaccuracy is denied
- the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
- the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Education concerning alleged failures by the University of South Dakota or any of its schools or colleges to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
USD students are notified of their FERPA rights annually in the university’s student handbook, produced by the Office of the Dean of Students.
Can my parents access my records?
Without your express, written permission, your parents, like the general public, do not have access to your education records. Likewise, if you have restricted your directory information from access by the public with a confidentiality request, then those items of directory information are considered confidential, and cannot be released to your parents or other third parties.
To allow your parents access to your record, please complete the FERPA Release of Information Form.
How can I restrict access to my directory information?
If you are currently enrolled at USD, you may request to have your directory information made confidential by completing the confidentiality request form. The confidentiality request is available to all students during the first 10 days of the first semester in which the student is enrolled. Your confidentiality request will remain in effect until you rescind it.
How do I request to review my education records?
You may request to inspect and review your education record by submitting the Student Request to Inspect and Review Education Records Form and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar. You will be asked to precisely identify the record or records you wish to inspect.