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Policy and Guidelines Regarding Student Records Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

I. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy, Barnard College has used the following definitions of terms:

Student: Any person who was or is enrolled as a student at the College.

Education records: Any record (in handwriting, print, tapes, film, computer or other medium) maintained by Barnard College or an agent of the College which is directly related to a student, except:

  1. A personal record kept by a faculty or staff member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and is not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record and is not used for purposes other than a memory or reference tool.
  2. An employment record of an individual whose employment is not contingent on the fact that he or she is a student.
  3. Records maintained by Barnard College Office of Public Safety if the record is maintained solely for law enforcement purposes.
  4. Records maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional if the records are used only for treatment of a student and made available only to those persons providing the treatment.
  5. Alumnae records which contain information about a student after she is no longer in attendance at the College and which do not relate to the person as a student.

II. Annual Notication

            Students will be notified annually of their FERPA rights.

III. Procedure to Inspect Education Records

Students may inspect and review their Education Records upon written request presented in person with appropriate identification to the Registrar or designated personnel in the Office of the Registrar.

The written request submitted by the Student must identify as precisely as possible the record or records she wishes to inspect.

The Registrar will refer the request to the appropriate records custodian, who will make the needed arrangements for access and will notify the Student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  Access will be given as promptly as possible but in no event later than 45 days from the date of the request.

When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the records which relate to her.

IV. Right of College to Refuse Access

Barnard College reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect the following records:

  1. Any and all financial records and income tax forms of the student's parents or guardians submitted in connection with the application for, or receipt of, financial aid.
  2. Any and all letters and statements of recommendation or other documents for which the student has waived her right to access, or which were placed in her file before January 1, 1975.
  3. Any and all records connected with an application to Barnard College if that application was denied, or accepted and the applicant never enrolled.  FERPA rights are provided only to applicants upon acceptance and subsequent enrollment.
  4. Those records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of “education records”.

V. Copying of Education Records

A student may have copies made of her Education Records, upon payment of an announced fee, except in the following instances:

  1. The student has an unpaid financial obligation to the College.
  2. There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.
  3. The records are not required to be made available under FERPA.

VI. Types, Locations, and Custodians of Education Records

The following is a list of the types of records that the College maintains, and their custodians.

Types                                                               Location         

Admission Records                                          Admissions

Academic Records                                           Registrar

Financial Aid                                                    Financial Aid

Placement Records                                          Career Services

Disciplinary Records                                        Associate Dean for Equity

Residence Life Housing Records                      Residential Life and Housing

VII. Disclosure of Education Records

            Barnard College will disclose information from a student's education records only with the written consent of the student, except that the records may be disclosed without consent when the disclosure is:

1. To School officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records. 

            A school official is:

  • A person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, including health or medical staff.
  • A member of the College's Board of Trustees.
  • A person or entity employed by or under contract to the College to perform a special task, such as the attorney,  auditor or outside vendor.
  • A person employed by Columbia University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position in a program or department which provides services to Barnard students under the affiliation agreement between Barnard and Columbia and who requires the information for the purpose of providing those services to Barnard College.
  • A student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or who is assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
  • A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom the College has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that said party performs a College service or function for which the College would otherwise use employees, is under direct control of the College with respect to the use and maintenance of education records, and is subject to the requirements of Section 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from Education Records.

            A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:

  • Performing a task or function that is specified in his or her position description or contract agreement.
  • Performing a task related to a student's education.
  • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care counseling, job placement or financial aid.
  • Maintaining the safety and security of the campus.

The determination as to whether or not a legitimate educational interest exists will be made by the custodian of the records on a case-by-case basis. When the custodian has any question regarding the request, the custodian should withhold disclosure unless the custodian obtains consent from the student, or the concurrence of a supervisor or other appropriate official that the record may be released.

2. To officials of another school upon request, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled.

3.  Subject to the conditions set forth in 34 CFR 99.35, to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, authorized representatives of the attorney general for law enforcement purposes (investigation or enforcement of federal legal requirements of federally supported education programs), or state and local educational authorities.

4. To school officials or lending institutions, in connection with a student's request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.

5. To state and local officials or authorities to which such information is specifically required to be reported or disclosed pursuant to the state statute adopted prior to Nov. 19, 1974, if the allowed reporting or disclosure concerns the juvenile justice system and the system's ability to effectively serve the student whose records are released; or information that is allowed to be reported pursuant to a state statute adopted after 1974, which concerns the juvenile justice system and the system's ability to effectively serve, prior to adjudication, the student whose records are released. Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the state from further limiting the number or type of state or local officials who will continue to have access thereunder. If required by a state law requiring disclosure that was adopted before November 19, 1974.

6. To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions for the purpose of developing, validating or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs and improving instruction, if such studies are conducted in such a manner as will not permit the personal identification of students and their parents by persons other than representatives of such organizations and such information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purpose for which it is conducted.

7. To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.

8. To parents of a dependent student, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. The parents must provide a copy of their most recent federal income tax return establishing the student's dependency. Full rights under the act shall be given to either parent, unless the institution has been provided with evidence that there is a court order, state statute or legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation or custody that specifically revokes those rights. Barnard does not have an obligation to disclose any financial information about one parent to another. If a parent claims a student as a dependent and does not want his/her financial information disclosed to his/her spouse or former spouse, the parent may make that request to the institution.

9. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, provided the College makes a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance. Notification may be prohibited if the College receives a federal grand jury subpoena or any other subpoena which states that the student should not be notified. The Office of the General Counsel shall be consulted prior to release of the record.

10. To appropriate parties (including parents of a student, even if student is not a dependent for tax purposes) in a health or safety emergency, if the knowledge is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individual.

11. To an alleged victim of any crime of violence as that term is defined in Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code, or a nonforcible sex offense, the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by an institution of postsecondary education against the alleged perpetrator of that crime or offense with respect to that crime or offense. The Office of the General Counsel shall be consulted prior to release of the record.

12. To Veterans Administration Officials pursuant to 38 USC 3690 (c).

13. Information the College has designated as "directory information," unless a hold has been placed upon release of the information by the Student.

14. To the court those records that are necessary to defend the institution when a student initiates legal action against the institution.

15. In addition to those instances noted above, the College has the discretion to disclose the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the College against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code) or a nonforcible sex offense if the university determines as a result of the disciplinary proceeding that the student committed a violation of the university's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense.

16. To any parent or legal guardian of a student under the age of 21, if  the disclosure is concerning a violation of any federal, state or local law, or any rule or policy of the College governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

VIII. Record of Requests for Disclosure

            Barnard College will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosure of information from a student's Education Records.  The record will include the name of the party making the request, any additional party to whom it may be disclosed, and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting and obtaining the information.  Personal information shall be transferred to a third party only on the condition that such a party will not permit any other party to have access to such information without the written consent of the student.  The record may be reviewed by the student.

This recordkeeping is not required if the request was from, or the disclosure was to:

  1. the student;
  2. school official determined to have a legitimate educational interest;
  3. party with written consent from the student;
  4. a party seeking directory information; or
  5. a federal grand jury or law enforcement agency pursuant to a subpoena that by its terms requires nondisclosure.

IX. Directory Information

            Barnard College designates the following items as Directory Information:  student name; class; home or college address and  telephone number; email address; major field; date and place of birth; dates of attendance at Barnard; degrees, honors and awards received; previous school most recently attended; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; and photograph.  The College may disclose any of those items without prior written consent, unless a student files a request to withhold directory information with the Registrar, 107 Milbank Hall, each year by September 15.

X. Correction of Education Records

            Students have the right to ask to have records corrected that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights.  Following are the procedures for the correction of records:

  1. A student must ask the Registrar of the College to amend a record.  In so doing, the student should identify the part of the record she wants changed and specify why she believes it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of her privacy or other rights.
  2. The College may comply with the request and make the changes requested by the student.  If the College does not feel the change is warranted, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise her of her right to a hearing to challenge the College's decision.
  3. Upon request, Barnard College will arrange for a hearing, and notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.
  4. The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer appointed by the Dean of the College and who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing; however, the hearing officer will be an employee of the College.  The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student's education records.  The student may be assisted by one or more individuals at her expense, including an attorney.  The challenge to be considered in such hearing may extend only to the material in the respective file; it may extend to the correct recording of a grade but not to the appropriateness of the grade.
  5. The College will issue a written decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing.  The decision will include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.
  6. If after a hearing the College decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student's right of privacy, it will notify the student that she has a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or a statement setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision.  The statement will be maintained as part of the student's education records as long as the contested portion is maintained.  If the College discloses the contested portion of the record, it must also disclose the student's statement.
  7. If after a hearing the College decides that the challenged information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student's right of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the student, in writing, that the record has been amended.

Effective Date: August 2011 reviewed August 2013