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Student Rights under FERPA

FERPA provides students specific rights to:

  • Inspect and review their educational records.
  • Limit disclosure of information from their records.
  • Request the amendment of inaccurate educational records.
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning the alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Students may not have access to:

  • Parent's financial records (without written consent from the parent)
  • Law Enforcement Records
  • Medical, psychiatric records or similar records in connection with the treatment of the student
  • Letters/statements of recommendation written prior to 1975.
  • Recommendation letters written after 1975 may not be released if the student waived the right to inspect and review those letters and if:

    • The letters are related to admission to WMU;
    • The letters are used in consideration for employment;
    • The letters are used in determining the receipt of an honor.

Education records

Education records are all the records maintained by WMU about individual students, with the following exceptions:

  • Sole possession records or private individual notes created by a faculty or staff member that are accessible only to the individual who created them.
  • Law enforcement or campus security records created and maintained solely for law enforcement purposes.
  • Employment records
  • Medical and counseling records used solely for the treatment of the individual.
  • Records that contain information relating to a person after that person no longer attends WMU. (For example, records of alumni accomplishments or honors.)

Access to records

The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of these records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels to be unacceptable. The Registrar’s Office has been designated to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files, cooperative education, and placement records.

Students may have copies of their records with certain exceptions, (e.g. a transcript of an original or source document that exists elsewhere). These copies are made at the students’ expense at the prevailing rate of ten cents per page.

Education records do not include the records of instructional, administrative, and education personnel, which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute; records of the law enforcement unit; student health records; employment records, or alumni records. Physicians of the students’ choosing, however, may review health records.

Students may not inspect and review the following, as outlined in the Act:

  • Financial information submitted by their parents.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment, or job placement.
  • Honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review.
  • Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student.
  • The institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected.

Amendment of records

Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the person in charge of the records involved. If the decisions are in agreement with the students’ requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended and will also be informed of their right to a formal hearing. The request must be made in writing to the Registrar (Registrar’s Office; 1903 W. Michigan Avenue; Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5256) who, within ten days after receiving such request, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students’ expense. The hearing officer who will adjudicate such challenges will be the Registrar, or a person designated by the Registrar who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. Decisions of the hearing officer will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. Written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions will be delivered to all parties concerned.

Decisions of the hearing officer are final. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing officer, if the decisions are in favor of the students. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the students, the students may place with the education records statements commenting on other information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing officer. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the students’ records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Who can request access

Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before a student's education record may be disclosed to a third party, unless they are exempted from this provision. Information will be released without your prior written consent to the following groups or individuals:

  • Western Michigan University faculty and staff with legitimate educational need to know
  • Representatives of agencies or organizations from which you have received financial aid, including banks or other lending agencies from which you have guaranteed student loans
  • Individuals or groups specifically exempted from the prior consent requirement
  • Federal and state officials, organizations conducting studies on behalf of Western Michigan University and accrediting organizations
  • Upon request, WMU may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for the purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer.

Instances in which prior written consent is not required:

  • Requests in connection with an emergency, if such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other person
  • Requests in accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order
  • Requests for directory information, if not restricted by the student

Location of records

Education records are not stored in a central location on campus. Requests to review your records must be made in writing and presented to the Registrar's Office. That office will have up to 45 days to honor your request.

You are in control

Directory information can be disclosed without your consent. You have the right to ask that any or all information not be released without your written consent. To invoke this right, complete form invoking confidentiality and return it to the Registrar's Office. This notice will then remain in effect until revoked in writing by the student.

Alumni

As a WMU graduate, please note that FERPA only covers education records that apply to you during your time as a student at WMU. Any achievements, honors, awards, etc. earned after you leave WMU are not covered under FERPA. Please also note that if you requested confidentiality while you were a student that is in effect until you revoke it. This means we will be unable to confirm a degree or verify your attendance at WMU.