The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Policy Category: Academic
Effective Date: 02/14/2024
Responsible Officer: Registrar
Responsible Office: Registrar
This policy is intended to provide guidance to Wentworth Institute of Technology (henceforth known as “the university” or “Wentworth”) community regarding compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
This policy applies to all members of the Wentworth community, students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment) provides students with certain privacy rights in their educational records. This policy summarizes those rights and the university’s obligations under FERPA. It applies to current and former students at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
The primary rights under FERPA are:
- The right to inspect and review your educational records
- The right to request the amendment of your educational record
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifying information contained in your educational records
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education
Directory Information: The information contained in the educational record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information includes but is not limited to the following:
- Student's legal name
- Major and/or field of study
- Enrollment status/rank (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, first year, second year)
- Dates of attendance
- Anticipated degree and degree date
- Degrees, honors, and awards
- Participation in officially recognized activities
- Student ID number, user ID, or other unique personal identifier used by the student for the purposes of accessing or communicating in electronic systems
- Most recent educational agency or institution attended
- Photographs used within the Wentworth community or photographs, videos, or audio recordings of any student on campus or at a campus event
- The university reserves the right to amend this listing consistent with federal law and regulations and will notify students of any amendments by publication in the Annual FERPA Notification.
- Please see VI. C. i. 15 for additional information
Educational Records: Any record (in handwriting, print, tapes, film, electronic, or other medium) maintained by the university or an agent of the university that is directly related to a student, except:
- A personal record that is in the sole possession of the maker of the record and is not accessible or revealed to any other person (i.e. personal notes).
- The employment record of a person not due to their student status, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment.
- Records that are created and maintained by the Wentworth Police Department for law enforcement purposes.
- Records made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in their professional or paraprofessional capacity and that are used only in connection with the treatment of a student and that are disclosed only to individuals providing that treatment.
- Alumni records that contain information about a student after they are no longer in attendance at the university and that do not relate to the person as a student.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Personally identifying information such as names, parent or other family members’ names, address and address of the student or the family, that, alone or in combination, would allow a reasonable person in the university community to identify the student with reasonable certainty based on information requested by a person whom the university believes knows the identity of the student.
Student: Any person who is presently enrolled and attending or who has been enrolled and attended the university’s degree, non-degree, or non-credit programs regardless of age. Persons admitted but never matriculated are not considered students. For the purposes of this policy, current and former students who are deceased are not considered students under this definition.
University Official: The term “university official” (sometimes called “School Official”) means any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or outreach, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff). The term also includes any contracted actor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom the university has outsourced institutional services or functions where the outside party:
- performs an institutional service or function for which the university would otherwise use employees;
- is under the direct control of the university with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and
- is subject to the requirements of FERPA governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
The Right to Inspect and Review Records
- Students requesting to inspect and review educational records must identify, in writing, which specific records are being requested.
- Requests can be submitted to the Registrar’s Office via email at email@example.com.
- The Registrar’s Office will make arrangements and notify requestors of the time and location to review the records.
- The Registrar’s Office will make these records available within 45 days after receipt of such a request.
- If the records are not maintained by the Registrar, the Registrar will assist in directing this request to the appropriate university official.
The Right to Request an Amendment of An Educational Record
- If an individual believes that their educational record is inaccurate, they may submit a request to amend it.
- Such requests must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office in writing, clearly identifying the records to be amended and specifying the reasons they are believed to be inaccurate.
- The Registrar’s Office will notify the requestor of its decision and, if the decision is negative, of their right to a hearing regarding their request for amendment.
- Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided at that time.
The Right to Consent to Disclosures of Personally Identifiable Information
Educational records may not be disclosed without a student’s prior written consent, except for the following instances:
- To the student themselves
- To university officials with a legitimate educational interest
- To officials of another school, at the request of those officials, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll
- In connection with a student’s request or receipt of financial aid
- Judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena (the university will attempt to notify the student of the order of subpoena)
- Health and safety emergencies
- Law enforcement and government agencies
- To a court in connection with legal action
- To the parent or a guardian regarding a student’s violation of the alcohol or drug policy
- To the victim or an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense. Such disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university with respect to the alleged crime or offense. The university may disclose the final results of the disciplinary proceeding regardless of whether the university concluded a violation was committed
- Certain federal, state, and/or local government officials in connection with educational audits
- Accrediting organizations
- Organizations conducting studies on behalf of educational agencies
- Military Access, per the Solomon Amendment
- Directory information, as listed above
- Students may restrict the release of directory information, except to school officials with legitimate educational interests and to others as permitted by law.
- If a student wishes to prevent disclosure, the student must complete a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information online via the Directory Listing Opt-Out (FERPA) in myWentworth.
- A student’s Request to Prevent Disclosure of directory information is valid for the life of the record or until a request to reverse non-disclosure is made in writing to the Registrar’s Office.
- The following categories of directory information may be disclosed to third parties, after approval from the Registrar:
- Date of Birth
- Address (physical and email)
- Telephone number
The Right to File a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education
- In accordance with FERPA’s notification requirements, this policy will be distributed annually to students.
- Applications and related material are kept in accordance with the Record Retention Schedule.
- Student and Alumni records are kept in accordance with the Record Retention Schedule.
- FERPA does not protect the education records of a deceased eligible student (a student 18 or older or in college at any age), and Wentworth may disclose such records at its discretion or consistent with State law.
- Members of the university community with proper access to the university email system may access student emails as long as the reason for access is for university-related purposes.
Additional Information & Related Documents
- U.S. Department of Education, FERPA
- Sections 483(a)(3)(E) and 485B(d)(2) of the HEA
- Joint Guidance on the Application of FERPA and HIPAA to Student Health Records
- Student FERPA Release Form
Interpretation & Revision
Any questions of interpretation regarding this policy shall be referred to the Registrar. They will be the final authority regarding the interpretation of this policy.
This policy shall be reviewed every three years; however, minor changes and updates can be made at any time.
Wentworth will typically apply the policy in place at the time it receives a report concerning the respected policy.
Review and Revision History
This policy was drafted by representatives from academic affairs and student affairs. This policy was reviewed by Cabinet and approved by the President on 2/14/2024.