Teachers College Columbia University

Academic Catalog

Policies & Procedures Documents » FERPA

FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Access to Student Records.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Access to Student Records.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.   The FERPA regulations (the “Regulations”) are available at www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/ferpa/index.html.

At Teachers College, a student’s official academic record is maintained by the Registrar, and its use is carefully controlled. Official records include the transcript, certain documents submitted in support of admission to the College and degree programs, and the doctoral student’s record maintained by the Office of Doctoral Studies. In accordance with established records management procedures, records are purged periodically and essential documents may be digitized.

A Teachers College student or alumnus may inspect his or her student records in accordance with FERPA. With the exceptions set out below, such records are generally not available to anyone other than College representatives with an institutional reason for reviewing them. Transcripts and other student records are released only in accordance with the College’s FERPA statement.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Statement

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) afford students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Registrar or head of the office a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The student must bring valid photo identification to the appointment. If the records are not maintained by the College official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of correct official to whom the request should properly be addressed.

2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. Students may ask the College to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

3. The right to withhold consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.    Records may disclosed without consent as follows:

  • To “School Officials” with legitimate educational. A “School Official” is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position; public safety officials, members of the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or admission committee, or assisting another School Official in performing his or her tasks for the College. In addition, a School Official may include a contractor outside of the College who performs an institutional service or function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent.  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.
  • Upon request and in the discretion of the Registrar, to officials of another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. 
  • To authorized representatives of the U.S. Controller General, Attorney General, or Secretary of Education, or to State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority responsible for supervising the College’s state-supported education program.  Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of the Regulations, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs.  These entities may make further disclosures of personally identifiable information to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf. 
  • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
  • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the College, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs: or (c) improve instruction.
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
  • If designated as “directory information” under the Regulations. The College has designated the following categories of information as directory information with respect to each student: name, mailing, campus and permanent addresses, photo, email address, Columbia University Network ID (UNI), degree program and major field of study, dates of attendance at the College, full-time, half-time or part-time status, degrees conferred and their dates, dissertation title and dissertation committee members and master’s essay title and sponsor. A student who does not wish to have “directory information” released should notify the Office of the Registrar in writing of his or her wish to withhold such information in the future.
  • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the provisions of the Regulations.  The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.
  • To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the provisions of the Regulations, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation against him or her.
  • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency subject to the provisions of the Regulations.
  • To parents of a student under the age of 21 regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation.

7.    The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College 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

Requests for release of records:

Upon written request by a student, the College may release information in that student’s education records at Teachers College to third parties. The student should make a request for such release in writing with the student’s signature to the Office having custody of the record. A student will ordinarily not be provided with copies of any part of his or her record other than the Teachers College transcript unless the inability to obtain copies of any part of his or her record other than the transcript would effectively prevent him or her from exercising his or her right to inspect and review his or her education records. The College may impose a charge for copying a student’s records in connection with such a release. The charge for an official transcript is $5.00; the charge for other copies is 20 cents per page.

Questions about the interpretation of the guidelines should be referred to the Executive Director Academic Affairs Compliance.