The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (“FERPA”) is a federal law that gives students certain rights with respect to their education records.
The University of Tulsa routinely maintains records for its students that describe and document their work and progress. These education records generally include records such as permanent and local addresses, admissions records, financial aid records, enrollment status, course grades, reports and evaluations, completion of requirements and progress toward the degree, records of disciplinary actions, letters of recommendation, medical treatment records, and other correspondence with or concerning the student.
To be useful, students’ records must be accurate and complete. The officials who maintain them are those in charge of the functions reflected in the records and the offices where the records are kept. These ordinarily include the Registrar, as well as certain offices of the University of Tulsa and its Colleges, including, for example, the offices of the Bursar, Financial Aid, Admissions, and Housing. All students have access to their own education records and may contribute to them if they feel there is need for clarification.
Students wishing access to their education records should contact the Registrar’s Office. Students should submit a written request that identifies the specific record or records they wish to inspect. Access will be given within 45 days from the receipt of the request. When a record contains information about more than one student, students requesting access may inspect and review only the portion of the record relating to themselves. Students also are not permitted to view letters and statements of recommendation to which they waived their right of access, or that were placed in their file before January 1, 1975.
Students should direct any questions they have about the accuracy of records to the person in charge of the office where the records are kept. If questions still remain, the matter may be referred to the Office of the Vice President for Student Services.
The University of Tulsa regards the following information as “directory information,” that is, information that, under FERPA, can be made available to the general public: full name, reported date of birth, dates of attendance, major(s) and minor(s), class year, digitized image, local or campus residence address and telephone number, university email address, secondary school (for undergraduate students), undergraduate college (for graduate and professional students), home town or city at the time the application for admission was filed by the student, original class at time of matriculation, degree candidate status, date of graduation (actual or expected), degree(s) received with major(s) and minor(s) and level of honors granted (if any), department of study, University prizes, fellowships, and similar honors awarded. For current or former student athletes, it also includes height, weight and sport. For student employees, job title, teaching appointment (if applicable), employing department and dates of employment are also directory information.
Students may direct The University of Tulsa not to disclose their directory information. This request is known as putting in place a “FERPA Block.” To do so, a student must inform the Office of the Registrar in person and submit a written request. Students should be aware of the possible consequences of putting in place a FERPA Block, such as missed mailings, messages, and announcements, non-verification of enrollment or degree status, and non-inclusion in commencement materials. Students who have previously chosen to put in place a FERPA Block may decide to reverse this decision by informing the Registrar’s Office in writing.
Voluntary Release of Education Records
Students who would like information from their education records – including but not limited to information like grades, attendance, or financial information – to be disclosed to other individuals, like family members, must provide their written consent before that information may be shared. To authorize the release of such information, students should complete and submit the Student Request to Disclose Information form. This form authorizes the University to disclose information to the authorized parties and respond to inquiries from authorized parties. The Student Request to Disclose Information form is filed in the Office of Student Affairs. Students may revise or revoke their consent by going to the Student Request to Disclose Information and submit a new form.
The Student Request to Disclose Information form will expire September 30 of the following year. Students are required to update or complete a new disclosure form at this time and will be notified by email prior to the expiration date as a reminder.
Other Disclosures Permitted under FERPA
In addition to permitting the disclosure of directory information, as set forth above, FERPA permits disclosure of educational records without a student’s knowledge or consent under certain circumstances. For example, disclosure is permitted to University officials with a legitimate educational interest in the records, meaning that the officials need the information in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities, including instructional, supervisory, advisory, administrative, academic or research, staff support or other duties. “University officials” include: faculty; administrators; clerical employees; professional employees; Alexander Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services Center staff members; campus security officers; agents of the University, such as contractors or volunteers performing functions on behalf of the University; members of the University’s Board of Trustees; and students serving on an official College or University committee or assisting another University official in performing tasks.
A student’s education record also may be shared with parties outside the University without consent of the student under certain conditions provided in § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. These circumstances include, for example, situations involving a health and safety emergency. A student’s parents may also be notified regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the University determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21.
In addition, the Registrar’s Office will forward a student’s education records to other agencies or institutions that have requested the records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
If the University of Tulsa finds that a student has committed a disciplinary violation involving a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, then the University also may, if legally permitted and appropriate in the judgment of the University, disclose certain information about the disciplinary case. The disclosure may include the student’s name, the violation committed, and the sanction imposed.
Student Rights under FERPA
As set forth above, under both University policy and FERPA, students and former students may inspect and review certain information contained in their education records that are maintained by the University. They also have the right to: consent to disclosures of information from their education records, except where disclosure is otherwise permissible under law without the student’s written consent; seek to correct their education records if they believe them to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of their FERPA rights; file a complaint with the US Department of Education if they believe The University of Tulsa has not complied with the requirements of FERPA; and be fully informed of their rights under FERPA. Complaints regarding alleged violation of rights of students under FERPA may be submitted in writing within 180 days to the Family Policy Compliance Office, US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-8520.