Data Privacy at Lewis-Clark State College (FERPA FAQs)

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records and is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education (FPCO). Essentially, the act states that 1) "students" must be permitted to inspect their own “education records” and 2) “school officials” may not disclose personally identifiable information about a student without written permission from the student.

Who is considered a "student" at LCSC?

Students are defined as those individuals who are enrolled and have a final admission status. Persons who applied for admission but were not admitted, or have not enrolled after the 10th day of a term, have no rights under FERPA. However, if admitted and enrolled, all admission records are then "folded into" the education record.

What is an "Education Record"?

Education records are defined as those records directly related to a student and maintained by LCSC, or by a party acting for LCSC. These records may contain a student’s name, social security number, student ID number, address, or any other piece of information that could be considered “personally identifiable.”

“Sole possession notes” (those made by one person and kept in the possession of the maker) are not considered education records. However, sharing these notes with another person or placing them in an area where they can be viewed by others will make them education records and, therefore, subject to FERPA.

Other records that are NOT considered education records:

  • Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency.
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution that relate exclusively to their capacity as employees.
  • Records relating to a student which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist (or related professional) used solely in connection with the provisions of treatment to the student.

Who has access to student records?

Student consent must be obtained before disclosing non-directory information, with some exceptions. Any information not defined explicitly as directory information is considered non-directory information. FERPA permits disclosure of non-directory information without student consent in circumstances outlined below:

  • School faculty and staff who have a need to know to fulfill their official responsibilities.
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring.
  • Accrediting organizations.
  • Organizations doing certain studies for or on behalf of the College.
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student.
  • Records can be released to parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes (except for health or counseling records which will not be disclosed without student consent or as required by law).
  • Certain government officials in connection with local, state or federally-supported education programs.
  • Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas.
  • Faculty and school officials who have a need to know concerning disciplinary action taken against a student.
  • Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies when necessary to protect the health and safety of the student and/or others.
  • State and local authorities to whom disclosure is required by state laws.

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expanded the circumstances under which education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records, including Social Security number, grades, or other private information, may be disclosed without student consent.

First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may be allowed to disclose student records and PII to a third-party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal or state supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

Second, Federal and State Authorities may be allowed access to education records and PII to provide researchers performing certain types of studies, with information; in certain cases even when LCSC objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without consent, PII from student education records, and they may track a student’s participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about a student that they obtain from other federal or state data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

  • Perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description, or by a contract agreement.
  • Perform a task related to a student’s education.
  • Perform a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Provide a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.

School officials typically include (but are not limited to):

  • LCSC faculty and staff
  • Appropriate transfer school officials
  • Authorized officials conducting audits
  • Dual credit high school officials
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid
  • Organizations conducting studies for LCSC
  • Officials with lawfully issued subpoenas
  • Officials in cases of health/safety emergencies

What is "Directory Information"?

Notice of Directory Information

FERPA permits the release of “Directory Information” without student consent. FERPA requires the institution to define and provide notice to students of information that is included within the term Directory Information. Lewis-Clark State College has defined “Directory Information” as follows:

  • Student name
  • Address listings
  • Telephone listings
  • Photograph
  • E-mail address
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Class level
  • Previous colleges attended
  • Major/minor field of study
  • Degree types and dates
  • Club and athletic participation records
  • Height and weight of members of athletic teams
  • Scholarships Awarded
  • College Leadership Position
  • High-School attended/hometown
  • Satisfactory academic standing/ honor roll or other recognition lists

What information can and cannot be released at LCSC?

This information CAN be released without written consent (directory information).

  • Student name
  • Address listings
  • Telephone listings
  • Photograph
  • E-mail address
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Class level
  • Previous colleges attended
  • Major/minor field of study
  • Degree types and dates
  • Club and athletic participation records
  • Height and weight of members of athletic teams
  • Scholarships Awarded
  • College Leadership Position
  • High-School attended/hometown
  • Satisfactory academic standing/ honor roll or other recognition lists

This information CANNOT be released (written consent is required).

  • Date of birth/age
  • Social security number
  • Student ID number
  • Class schedule/roster
  • Unsatisfactory academic standing
  • Grades
  • GPA (term and cumulative)
  • Transcript
  • Gender
  • Credits (term and cumulative)

What does FERPA say about grade posting?

Instructors may post grades without the written consent of the students only if the identities of the individuals are completely disguised such that no direct correlation to each student can be determined from the list.Student ID numbers are never to be posted. Accordingly, instructors should refrain from openly discussing grades in class or distributing graded material in such a way that the grades may be seen by other students.

How can a student withhold their directory information?

At Lewis-Clark State College, students who wish to restrict disclosures of their directory information, as listed above, may do so by submitting a Directory Information Restriction Request to the Registrar.

Please understand that placing a full Non-Disclosure hold on student records will cause any and all future requests for contact information from LCSC persons, on non-essential matters, and from non-institutional persons and organizations, including scholarship organizations, prospective employers, and transcript request, etc., to be denied.   The restriction will remain in place even after students have stopped attending or have graduated from Lewis-Clark State College. 

What are the rights of parents under FERPA?

FERPA gives certain rights to parents regarding their children's educational records at the primary and secondary level. These rights transfer to the student upon reaching 18 years of age or attending any school beyond the secondary level.

Under FERPA a student does not have a right to access and review certain records including:

  • Financial information submitted by parents.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations placed in the student's file before 01/01/75.
  • Confidential letters, etc., associated with admissions, employment, job placement or honors to which a student has waived rights of inspection and review.
  • Educational records containing information about other students such as grades, test scores, etc.

In an emergency, can a school official tell a student’s mother where her daughter’s next class is held?

A student’s class schedule is non-directory information. For the safety of the student, we cannot tell another person where a student is at any time.

When this situation arises, the school official should forward the inquiring person to the Office of Admission/Registrar and we will contact the student directly. However, we will not contact students for non-emergency reasons.

What is the Solomon Amendment?

Under this 1996 amendment, institutions are required to provide directory-type information on students at least 17 years of age who are registered for at least one credit, upon request from the Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes.

Can a school official include a student's GPA in a letter of recommendation?

If personably identifiable information (such as GPA, grades, etc.) obtained from a student's record is included in a letter of recommendation, the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which 1) specifies the records to be disclosed, 2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and 3) identifies the party to whom the disclosure can be made.

Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person's personal knowledge do not require a written release from the student.

What documents are available?

Where can I get more information?

U.S. Department of Education FERPA site
U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) site
Lewis-Clark State College contact: Registrar's Office, (208) 792-2223,