FERPA Policy

Policy number03-09
Responsible officeOffice of the Registrar
Enforcement officialUniversity Registrar
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category03. Academic Affairs

Statement of policy

This Policy sets forth how the University enforces FERPA’s dual purposes of creating a right of access to Student records for parents and Students and protecting the privacy of those records by preventing unauthorized access by third parties.

Summary of contents/major changes

Placed into new template; added language regarding potential hearings; technical changes.

  1. Purpose of Policy

    The purpose of this Policy is to educate the campus community as to what information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), how Students may access or request to amend their existing education records, and to designate Directory Information, which is information WMU may disclose unless the Student has explicitly requested that it not do so.

  2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policy

    Anyone who sees, uses, or requests information about current or former Students.

  3. Key Definitions

    1. Directory Information:  information contained in an Education Record of a Student that, if disclosed, would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy, as defined by FERPA.  See sections 4.4 and 4.5 for information WMU designates as Directory Information and Limited Directory Information.

    2. Education Record: generally, a record that contains information directly related to a Student, that is maintained by WMU or by a person acting for WMU, and that contains Personally Identifiable Information. 

    3. Legitimate Educational Interest: a need to access student education records for the purpose of performing an appropriate educational, research or administrative function for the institution

    4. FERPA: a federal law designed to help protect the privacy of Education Records.

    5. Personally Identifiable Information: (a) the Student's name; (b) the name of the Student's parent or other family members; (c) the address of the Student or Student's family; (d) a personal identifier, such as the Student's social security number, Student number, or biometric record; (e) other indirect identifiers, such as the Student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name; (f) other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific Student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the Student with reasonable certainty; or (g) information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the Student to whom the education record relates.

    6. School Official: a person employed by WMU in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom WMU has contracted (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 disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another School Official in performing his or her tasks.

    7. Student: for purposes of this Policy, an individual who is currently or was formerly enrolled at WMU.

  4. Full Policy Details

    1. FERPA provides Students the right to inspect and review their Education Records, the right to seek to amend incorrect education records and the right to limit disclosure of directory information from their Education Records.

    2. FERPA protects the education records of Students who are currently or were formerly enrolled regardless of their age. The education records of deceased Students and Students who have applied to — but have not attended — WMU are not subject to FERPA.

    3. Educational Records may be shared within the University among School Officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records.

    4. Directory Information


      1. Directory Information is subject to disclosure without consent from the Student. Students may request that any or all Directory Information not be released without their written consent. To invoke this right a Student must complete WMU’s confidentiality form and return the signed form to the Registrar’s Office. This notice remains in effect until the Student revokes it in writing.

      2. Western Michigan University has designated the following categories of information about individual Students as directory information:

        1. Name

        2. Address

        3. Telephone number

        4. WMU email address

        5. Curriculum and major field of study

        6. Dates of attendance

        7. Enrollment status

        8. Degrees and awards received

        9. Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the Student

        10. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports

        11. Weight and height of members of athletic teams

    5. Limited Directory Information
      1. WMU designates photographs, videos, or other media containing a student’s image or likeness (student images) and University-issued student electronic mail addresses (email addresses) as Limited Use Directory Information. Limited Use Directory Information may only be used for the following:

        1. publication in official University publications, on social media sites, or websites hosted or maintained by, on behalf of, or for the benefit of the University, including the University’s online directory and internal email system;

        2. University officials who have access, consistent with FERPA, to such information in conjunction with a legitimate educational interest; and

        3. external parties contractually affiliated with the University if such affiliation requires sharing Limited Use Directory Information.

      2. The following shall also be considered Limited Use Directory Information that may be disclosed only to other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group) that has been audio or video recorded by the University, for instructional and educational purposes only:

        1. name, to the extent it is referenced or captured during the audio or video recording;

        2. any photograph or image of the student captured during the audio or video recording;

        3. any audio or video recording of the student participating in the course; and

        4. any online chats or other recorded communications among participants in the course captured during the audio or video recording.

      3. Students may request to withhold this Limited Use Directory Information from disclosure pursuant to Section 4.4.1.  However, doing so may limit the extent to which they will be able to participate in the course.

      4. To protect the privacy of other students, individuals may not make their own recordings of class sessions or to share or distribute University recordings of class sessions unless they have permission from the instructor or an accommodation established through Disability Services for Students.

    6. Requests for Review and Amending Records
      1. Students may request to review their Educational Records, subject to certain exclusions.

      2. A Student may allow their Educational Records to be disclosed to a third party so long as the Student provides written, signed, and dated consent. The consent must specify the Records that may be disclosed, state the purpose of disclosure and identify the party or parties to whom the disclosure may be made.

      3. Upon receipt of a valid request for disclosure, the University will provide a time and place for the Student/requestor to review the records.  The University will not provide copies of the records or otherwise allow the records to leave school property, unless failing to do so deprives the Student of their right to inspect and review their Educational Record.

      4. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the Student’s privacy rights. To do so, they must contact the Registrar in writing, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.  The University must respond to the request within a reasonable amount of time.

      5. If the University does not amend the record as requested, the University will notify the Student of the decision and advise the Student of their right to a hearing consistent with regulatory requirements.  The University will provide the Student with additional information regarding the hearing procedures as part of the notice of the right to a hearing.

      6. The University shall provide the Student with notification of the hearing date, time, and location as well, subsequently, as the hearing outcome.

      7. The hearing will follow the requirements set forth in 34 C.F.R. § 99.22.

    7. Exceptions
      1. The University may disclose FERPA-protected information without the Student’s consent in limited circumstances.  They include, but are not limited to:

        1. If, in the University’s judgment, disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of the Student or others;

        2. If there is a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena (in such circumstances, the University will make a reasonable effort to notify the Student prior to releasing the information);

        3. If requested by a parent or guardian where a Student under the age of 21 is found responsible for violating any law, rule or university policy pertaining to drugs or alcohol.

        4. Law enforcement records (i.e., records created by the law enforcement unit, created for a law enforcement purpose, and maintained by the law enforcement unit) or medical files while they are in the possession of the medical provider are not Education Records for the purpose of FERPA.

      2. FERPA rights do not apply once a student is deceased or to students who applied, but did not enroll at WMU.

  5. Accountability

    The University could put its federal funding in jeopardy if it does not follow the requirements of FERPA and this Policy.

    Failure to follow this Policy and any associated procedures may subject WMU employees to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment by the University, consistent with applicable procedures and Collective Bargaining Agreements.

  6. Related Procedures and Guidelines

    See Registrar’s Page

    Privacy of Directory Information Form

    Student Information Release Authorization Form

    FAQs about Recording and Videoing Students in Class

  7. Additional Information

  8. FAQs

    1. Where can I find the University’s posted notice regarding directory information and my FERPA rights?

      This Policy serves as that notice.  Contact the Registrar’s Office if you have any questions.

    2. What if my child is a minor and they are taking classes at a local college while still in high school – do I have rights?

      If a Student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the Student. However, in a situation where a Student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that Student. If the Student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school.

    3. May WMU disclose to a parent, without the Student’s consent, information regarding a Student’s violation of the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance?

      Yes, if the Student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure. Also, if the Student is a “dependent Student” as defined in FERPA, the institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of the Student.

    4. Do I have a right to object to my Directory Information being disclosed?

      Yes.  If you do not want your Directory Information disclosed, contact the Registrar’s office for assistance.

    5. What can I do if I believe I am being improperly denied access to FERPA-protected records? 

      You have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by WMU to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

      Family Policy Compliance Office
      U.S. Department of Education
      400 Maryland Avenue SW
      Washington, DC 20202-4605

    6. If I apply to WMU but am not accepted or do not enroll, are my records protected by FERPA? 

      No.  FERPA only protects Educational Records of Students who are or who have enrolled.


Effective date of current versionMay 1, 2021
Date first adoptedJanuary 1, 1974
Revision history
Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 08:00 Last revised
Proposed date of next reviewMay 1, 2024


Certified by

Responsible Enforcement Official
Carrie Cumming, Registrar

At the direction of

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Julian Vasquez Heilig