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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

All five Vermont State Colleges (VSC): Vermont Tech, Castleton State College, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College and the Community College of Vermont, use the same online academic database and share a common transcript. Students that share academic information with one college are sharing it with the entire VSC. The FERPA authorization form is a VSC-wide authorization.

The Family Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student educational records. The law gives eligible students, those who have reached the age of 18, or the parents of students under the age of 18, certain rights with respect to their education records. Students have the right to inspect, review and request that the College correct educational records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If parents/guardians claim a student as a dependent, they may have access to the student’s educational records without prior the student’s permission.

Generally, the College must have written permission prior to releasing any academic information from a student’s record. However, the law allows the College to disclose records without consent, for official school business.

Students must complete an online FERPA Authorization form in Web Services to provide parents or others with access to their academic records and to set up an access code for them to provide when seeking information either in person or on the phone.  This authorization does not include transcript requests, grade reports or enrollment verifications; these must be individually requested by the student. However, the law allows the college to disclose records without consent, to the following parties:
  • College employees who have a need to know;
  • Other schools to which the student is applying;
  • Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Parents of dependent eligible students;
  • Organizations conducting studies for the college;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas;
  • Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies; and state and local authorities, within the justice system, pursuant to specific state law.
Students must complete an online form in Web Services that provides parents or others with access to their academic records and an access code for them to provide when seeking information either in person or on the phone. This permission does not include transcript requests or grade reports; these must be individually requested by the student.

Directory Information

The college may also disclose, without consent, “directory type information” that is considered not to be harmful to student/parent if released. The information considered by the college to be directory information is name, home and college address, telephone listing, email address, date of birth, major, enrollment status (full-time or part-time), enrollment level (undergraduate or graduate), dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, weight and height of athletic team members, photographs, most recent and previous educational institutions attended, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports. Parent information is not directory information.

Students have the right to withhold the release of any or all directory information, to do so a written request must be made at the Office of the Registrar.  It should be noted that if directory information is to be withheld, it will be withheld all parties.  A request to withhold directory information must be made as soon as possible after the start of term and will remain in effect until revoked by the eligible student.

For additional information, technical assistance or to file a complaint, you may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at (202) 260-3887 or om@ed.gov or

US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

Public Access to Student Information 

The College may NOT disclose personally identifiable information from education records unless the disclosure meets one or more of the requirements of B and C of this section.

“Personally Identifiable Information” (PII) includes but is not limited to the student’s name, address, student identification numbers, social security number, other personal identifiers, ethnicity, race, nationality, and gender; name and address of student’s parent or other family members; and a list of personal characteristics or other information that would make the student’s identity easily traceable. 

The College may disclose Directory Information without prior written consent of the student. 
  1. “Directory information” means information which would not generally be considered harmful to the student or an invasion of privacy, if disclosed. See Directory Information above under FERPA.
  2. Release of directory information is permitted but not required under FERPA. The decision to disclose directory information will be made at the discretion of the appropriate school official. 
  3. Students may opt out of the release of all directory information by submitting a Request to Withhold Directory Information form. Upon receipt of this form, the College shall release no directory information to any third party without prior student consent except as may be otherwise permitted by law. 
PII from education records may be released to the student and, under the following circumstances, to third parties: 
  1. Where the student consents to the release by signing and dating a written statement of consent before disclosing protected information. The written consent must specify: the record(s) to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure must be made. 
  2. Where the disclosure is to school officials with legitimate educational interest. For the purposes of this section, “school officials” include persons employed by the VSC in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff). “School officials” also include persons, companies or agencies with whom the VSC has contracted to provide services (i.e. attorney, auditor, collection agent, etc.), a person serving on the board of trustees, and a student serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing his or her own tasks. For the purposes of this section, “Legitimate Educational Interest” means: (a) the record or information requested is relevant and necessary to the accomplishment of some task or determination; (b) the task or determination is an employment responsibility for the inquirer or is properly assigned subject matter for the inquirer’s task or determination; and (c) the task or determination is consistent with the purpose for which the record or information is maintained. 
  3. Where special circumstances are present including the following as well as any other circumstances permitted: 
  1. Upon request by officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll; b. To certain federal, state, or local education officials in connection with state or federally supported educational programs; 
  2. To authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary of Education or State educational authorities, or authorized representatives of the Attorney General for law enforcement purposes; 
  3. To organizations conducting certain studies/research for or on behalf of the VSC; 
  4. To comply with a discipline order or a lawfully issued subpoena or IRS summons after making a reasonable effort to notify student in advance; 
  5. To appropriate parties in a health and/or safety emergency; 
  6. When a College has found, in the event of disciplinary proceedings against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of a violent crime (18 USC section 16) or non-forcible sex offense, that the student committed a violation of College rules or policies, the final results of such disciplinary proceedings may be released. However, the institution may only release the name of the student, violation committed, sanction imposed, and the name(s) of other student(s) involved, such as the victim or witness, but only with the prior written consent of the other student(s). 
  7. To the parents of a student under the age of 21 where the VSC has determined that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance; 
  8. To the parents of dependent students, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code; 
  9. To accrediting organizations in order to conduct accrediting functions; 
  10. To an authorized representative of institutions from which a student has received financial aid or the student had applied for financial aid. 
  11. In accordance with the Solomon Act. Solomon requires institutions to provide specified information about individual students to representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes unless the student has formally requested the school to withhold directory information from all third parties. 

With the exception of the mandatory reporting of student recruiting information under the Solomon, disclosure without consent in these special circumstances is permitted but not required. The decision to disclose any information in these special circumstances will be made at the discretion of the appropriate school official.  

The College shall maintain records of requests and disclosure of non-directory information under this section C3 above. The person or agency making a request for disclosure must submit a letter stating: the name of the student, name of the person making the request, the names of the parties to whom the information may be disclosed, the legitimate interest of the party making the request and the legitimate interest of the party who may receive the information. All requests for disclosure should be submitted to College Registrar. 

Procedures to Amend Educational Records

Students have the right to ask to have record(s) corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights.
  1. A student must submit a written request to the College Registrar to amend a record. In so doing, the student should identify the part of the record she/he wants changed and specify why she/he believes it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of his/her privacy rights. 
  2. The College has the authority to accept or reject any requests. If the College decides not to comply, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise him/her of his/her right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights. 
  3. Upon request for a hearing, the College will arrange for a hearing and notify the student of the date, time, and place of the hearing. 
  4. The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party; however, the hearing officer may be an official of the College. The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend his/her education record(s). 
  5. The College will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reason for the decision. 
  6. If the College decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation if his/her privacy rights, it will notify the student that she/he has a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or a statement setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision. 
  7. The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s education records as long as the contested portion is maintained. 
  8. If the College decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of his/her privacy rights, it will amend the record and notify the student, in writing, that the record has been amended. 

Annual College Notification 

Vermont Technical College provides this handbook notice to inform students of their rights under FERPA and requests each student update annually his or her FERPA General Release form during orientation to be kept on file in the Office of the Registrar.

The entire FERPA policy is available on the web under the VSC Public Information & Data under VSC Policy and planning, Policy 312 – FERPA.