You are here

FERPA and Privacy of Records

What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA, is a federal law governing the privacy of education records. It grants specific rights to current and former students and sets restrictions on how schools may handle education records. It is College policy to keep student academic records confidential, with the exception of public information, which may be released at the discretion of Hampshire College officials.

FERPA requires that schools obtain written permission from students before releasing education records. Exceptions to this include emergency situations in which the health and safety of the student is involved, to provide information to schools to which a Hampshire student is transferring, in certain student conduct cases, and in other circumstances described in FERPA. In addition, in well-defined circumstances, some information may be released without written permission from the student. College officials with a legitimate educational interest may also have access to a student's education records without prior consent.

What is an education record?
The definition of an education record under FERPA is broad. It refers to any record that is directly related to a student and that is kept by the College or someone acting on behalf of the College from which an individual student, or students, can be personally (individually) identified. Records can include: files, documents, and materials maintained by the College in any medium.

FERPA gives each student the following rights:

  • The right to inspect and review education records the school is keeping on the student within 45 days of making a request.
  • The right to consent to any disclosure of those records, unless disclosure is permitted under FERPA.
  • The right to seek amendment to those records.
  • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Family Policy Compliance Office in Washington, D.C.

Note: When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.

Public Information
The items below are considered public information and may be released to third parties at the discretion of Hampshire College officials. Students may request that public information be withheld. Since there are important consequences of such a request, students must consult with the director of central records.

  • Name
  • Campus box number and phone
  • Campus email address
  • ID photo
  • Pronouns
  • Dates of attendance
  • Field of concentration
  • Name of advisor
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Dates, titles, and committees of Divisional projects
  • Most recent educational institution attended

Privacy of Records
Students complete an annual 'privacy of records' form on TheHub regarding parent or guardian access, which they may change at any time. Ordinarily, students themselves share evaluations and Five College grades with others. In some cases, however, parents, guardians or individuals acting as parents in the absence of a parent or guardian, may request information from advisors, faculty, or staff. Students indicate whether the College may release to these individuals general information on academic progress and financial matters and/or copies of academic contracts, and whether, upon request, the College may send them copies of evaluations.  Other third parties may obtain non-directory information if the student has granted specific permission to do so.

Privacy rights apply only to currently enrolled students and former students; Hampshire applicants are not covered. These rights pertain to any education records in whatever form maintained by the College.

Type of Record

 Responsible Office

Academic

director of central records

Admissions

dean of academic support and advising/dean of enrollment and retention

Student Conduct

director of student conduct, rights, and responsibilities/ dean of students office

Financial Aid

director of financial aid   

Telephone inquiries for information on alumni are answered by the Alumni and Family Relations Office, which releases this information only to other alumni, Hampshire and Five College faculty, and other inquirers expressly authorized by the alum. Hampshire students interested in contacting alums are encouraged to email alumni@hampshire.edu with their requests.

 The following are not considered “education records” and access will not be provided:

  • Personal files kept by a College staff member if the record is not revealed to others and is kept in the sole possession of the staff member
  • Records maintained separately from education records solely for law enforcement purposes
  • Medical records maintained by the College’s student health clinic
  • Parents’ financial records

Access to student education records may be provided without prior written consent where such disclosure involves:

  • Hampshire College officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the record.  A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a student conduct or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks.
  • Officials of another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll
  • Federal, state, and local agencies and authorities as provided under law
  • Parents of an eligible student if the student is claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of an educational institution, where such studies will not permit personal identification of students or their parents by those other than the representatives of such organizations
  • Appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency
  • Compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, where reasonable effort has been made to notify the student in advance of compliance
  • Disclosure of final results of certain Formal Conduct Process proceedings (described in FERPA regulations) when there is a determination that a student committed a violation of its rules or policies with respect to the crime
  • Disclosure to a parent of a student’s violation of a federal, state or local law or any rule or policy of the College governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances
  • Other circumstances permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended

The following College personnel have access to student files: staff of central records, dean of faculty, center for academic support and advising, admissions, and student life; offices of the College with responsibility for academic programs; the student’s advisor; current and potential divisional committee members; College employees gathering data for legitimate college purposes; or any College official with a legitimate educational interest in an education record. To qualify as legitimate and educational, an interest must be related in a clearly discernible way to the conduct of the normal business of the institution or to the educational welfare of the individual student or of other students. Exceptions to this policy may be made in individual cases with the permission of the director of central records, provided that the exceptions are consistent with applicable law.

Request for Amendment to Educational Records
Generally, students resolve minor inaccuracies in their narrative evaluations without a formal process. Requests for amendment to records are not used in cases where the student is disputing a faculty member’s judgment of academic work. Refer to the section on Evaluation of Educational Activities for information on requesting changes to narrative evaluations.

If an eligible student believes information contained in their education record is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy, the student may request a review of the record and its amendment.  Requests to amend record may not be considered beyond 60 days after the student’s final semester of attendance. 

Requests for amendment will be reviewed within a reasonable time and if appropriate college officials so decide, the record will be amended. If the College decides not to amend a record, the student will be notified and informed of the right to a hearing.