The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act

Centre’s Policies on the Confidentiality of Student Records and Access to Records


The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, is a federal law, which states that a written institutional policy must be established and made available. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.


Centre College accords all the rights under the law to students. No one outside the institution shall have access nor will the institution disclose any information from students' education records without the consent of students except to personnel within the institution, to persons or organizations providing students financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to organizations conducting certain studies for educational purposes for or on behalf of the College, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. Anyone to whom a record is disclosed is prohibited from further disclosing the record except in accordance with the law and this policy. Under the Act, a college cannot release education records to a parent unless the parent has provided evidence that the student is a dependent of the parent for tax purposes. A parent can send to the Office of the Registrar a written request for the release of records along with a copy of the relevant portions of the parent's most recent federal tax filing showing the student is claimed as a dependent. These documents will be kept in the Office of the Registrar.


The College discloses education records without a student's prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including public safety 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 disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the College.


At its discretion, the institution may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, local and permanent address, Centre College network e-mail address, local and permanent telephone number, date and place of birth, major and minor fields of study, dates of attendance, anticipated graduation date, degrees and awards received, student photograph, the most recent previous educational institution attended by the student, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, and religious affiliation when voluntarily provided. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar in writing. New students must indicate their request to withhold directory information the summer prior to enrolling at the College. Returning students must inform the Registrar's Office by May 30 if they wish to withhold directory information. Forms for making such requests are available in the Registrar's Office. Requests for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold directory information must be filed annually in the Registrar's Office. NOTE: The College reserves the right to verify the enrollment status and degrees earned by any student at any time.


The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. The Registrar at Centre College has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records.


Student records are kept in several offices on campus. Appropriate admission records are transferred to the Registrar's Office upon enrollment at the College. Academic records and entrance testing records are maintained in the Registrar's Office. Financial records are maintained in the Finance Office and the Student Financial Planning Office. Student health records are maintained in the Parsons Student Health Center. The Registrar maintains records of academic or social disciplinary actions that require withdrawal, suspension, or expulsion. Other disciplinary records are maintained by the Dean of Student Life or Associate Dean for five years beyond graduation and will be consulted in response to requests from professional schools, graduate programs, licensing agencies, or potential employers when such requests contain or are accompanied by student's signed release. NOTE: Records created and maintained by the Department of Public Safety for the purpose of law enforcement are not education records and may be released to law enforcement officials and others at the College's discretion.


Students wishing to review their education records should make their requests to the appropriate office, listing the item or items of interest; a written request may be required. Records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions, (e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere). These copies would be made at the student's expense at the rate of ten cents a page. Education records do not include: records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute; certain student health records; certain employment records; or alumni records. Physicians of the student's choosing, however, may review health records.


Students may not inspect and review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which 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.


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 Registrar. If the decisions are in agreement with the students' requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the students will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended; and they will be informed by the Registrar's Office of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Dean of the College who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearings. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students' expense. The Academic Standards Committee will adjudicate such challenges.


Decisions of the Academic Standards Committee will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the Academic Standards Committee, if the decisions are in favor of the student. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the Academic Standards Committee. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student's records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.


Students who believe that the adjudication of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provision of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the President of the College to aid them in filing complaints with The Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-5920.


For more information on the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act, please click here.