|FERPA Annual Notification and Authorization to Withhold Directory Information
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) TCNJ students will be notified of their rights annually via their TCNJ email account. Students are informed of their privacy rights as well as College policy pertaining to the release of directory and non-directory education records. To prevent the release of Directory Information, the student must file this form with the Office of Records and Registration.
|Authorization to Disclose Education Information
A written consent form the student signs which gives the College the right to disclose their education records to the authorized recipient. This form is to be used in incidents requiring singular limited authorization.
|Set up Authorized User
||The college will disclose, to a parent or authorized auxiliary party, the education records of a student provided the College has on file consent from the student. You may provide that consent directly through PAWS by creating an auxiliary access account in your parent or authorized auxiliary party’s name. By creating an auxiliary account you have authorized the College to allow your designated party to view your directory and non-directory (grades, class schedule, etc.) education records.
|Request to Inspect Education Records
|Students may inspect their educational records upon request.
Learn more about FERPA
Frequently Asked Questions
What is FERPA?
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called the Buckley Amendment). Passed by Congress in 1974, the Act grants four specific rights to the eligible student*:
- the right to see the education records that the institution is keeping on the student
- the right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases append a statement to the record
- the right to consent to disclosure of his/her records
- the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office
*ELIGIBLE STUDENT: When a student turns 18 years old, or attends a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents or guardians to the student. TCNJ defines students “in attendance” as being protected with FERPA rights beginning on the first day of the semester.
What are education records?
Just about any information provided by a student or created by the institution for use in the educational process is considered a student education record including:
- personal information
- enrollment records
- class schedules
- disciplinary records
The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. A student education record may be:
- an official document on file in a college office
- computer printout from an office
- class list
- data stored in a college maintained information system
What is considered directory information?
TCNJ considers the following as directory information and may release the following information upon request without the student’s consent:
- Hometown (city/state/postal code)
- Degrees and dates awarded
- Honors and awards received (including Dean’s List)
- Major(s) and Minor(s) field of study
- Classification (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior , Senior, Graduate)
- Dates of attendance**
- Previous educational institution / agency attended
- Weight/Height of athlete
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Enrollment status
**Period of time during which a student attends or attended TCNJ (e.g. Academic year, a spring semester). Does not include specific daily attendance records or class schedule.
What is considered non-directory information?
TCNJ considers the following non-directory information and cannot be released without a student’s written consent:
- Class Schedule
- Grade Point Average
- Grades/Exam Scores
- Progress Reports
- Disciplinary Status
- Religious Affiliation
- Marital Status
Who is considered a school official?
A school official is defined as a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic or support staff position (including campus police, campus health providers, and student employees); a person or company with whom the college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; a student serving on an official school committee such as the all-college academic integrity board; or a person 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 responsibility.
What should students know about FERPA?
- Student education records may not be released without the written consent of the student or via one of the many exceptions to FERPA.
- Education Records (including grades, financial information, and disciplinary records) cannot be released to parents, guardians or other interested parties without the specific written permission of the student.
- “Directory Information” may be released without the student’s written permission.
- Students who do not wish their “Directory Information” released outside TCNJ or published in the campus directory may opt out by giving written notice to the Office of Records and Registration annually by the day before the beginning of the Fall Semester using the Authorization to Withhold Directory Information Form at the top of this page.
What should parents know about FERPA?
- When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents or guardians to the student.
- Education records cannot be released to third parties (including parents or guardians) without signed and dated written consent from the student.
- There is a detailed list of exceptions at part 99.3 of the FERPA regulations (“education records” defined) and at 99.31. Perhaps the most important exception allows, but does not require, disclosure [of information in student education records] to the parents of a dependent student, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (part 99.31 (a) (8)).
- The best way to gain access to your child’s college records is with their consent. Nonetheless, as indicated above, if you claim your child as a dependent for federal tax purposes and can provide documentation that your child is a dependent, the College may provide access to his/her education records, as specified in FERPA (see part 99.31 (a) (8)) and in the Student Access to Education Records which states that prior consent to disclosure of information from student education records will not be required when notice is made to “[a]ppropriate parties in connection with an emergency, where knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” We routinely consider parents and guardians as “appropriate parties” to notify in such emergencies. For example, if a student living in the residence halls was transported to the hospital in a life-threatening situation, every reasonable effort would be made to notify parents or guardians as soon as possible.
- Student disciplinary records are also “education records” as defined under FERPA. The best practice is for your son or daughter to inform you about any disciplinary charges or sanctions directly. Students can also authorize release of information from their disciplinary files.** Upon consent from the student, information from the file may then be discussed with a parent or legal guardian.
- Parent Letter
**The new Auxiliary Access module now allows your student to give you access to Education Records, refer here for instructions on how to set up an Auxiliary Access account.
What should college officials know about FERPA?
- As a faculty or staff member, you have a responsibility to protect education records in your possession.
- You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a college employee. “Need to know” is the basic principle.
- The NJ Identity Theft Protection Act limits the use of Social Security numbers. A student’s name should not be linked to their Social Security Number or Student ID number in any public manner.
- Graded tests should not be left in a stack for students to sort through; instead, you may leave graded work with a program assistant for pick-up.
- Printed class list with student name and social security number or TCNJ Student Identification Number should not be circulated as attendance rosters.
- In order to discuss student progress with anyone other than the student, you must obtain written consent from the student or verify Authorized (Auxiliary) User Access through this link authorizeduser.tcnj.edu.
- Any requests for student lists or information for commercial or other third party use should be forwarded to Records and Registration.
- Never provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than college employees in finding a student on campus. Any requests should be forwarded to Campus Police.
- If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of Records & Registration.
- FERPA Tutorial (Faculty/Staff)
Who can we disclose education records to without written consent?
FERPA permits the disclosure of a students’ education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions of the FERPA regulations. Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, FERPA regulations require the institution to record the disclosure. Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures. A postsecondary institution may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student –
- To other school officials whom the school has determined to have legitimate educational interests, including contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions are met.
- To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
- To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, 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 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.
- To Federal and State Authorities who allow researchers performing certain types of studies, but must obtain certain use restrictions and data security promises from the entity they authorize.
- To State Authorities in connection with statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
- 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 school, 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 parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
- To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency.
- Information the school has designated as “directory information.”
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense. 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, 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 made against him or her.
- To parents of a student 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 and the student is under the age of 21.
What should school officials know about Letters of Recommendation?
- Letters of recommendation fall under the purview of FERPA, and may contain personally identifiable information. As such it is recommended that you obtain written consent from the student before releasing letters of recommendation, via the following form: https://recreg.tcnj.edu/files/2016/01/Authorization-to-Disclose-Education-Records.pdf
- With that in mind, please know that written consent is mandatory if the letter contains any non-directory information including but not limited to GPA and grades. For more information on directory and non-directory information, please see above.
- Consent is recommended but not required for letters that contain directory information and/or subjective judgments on the student’s performance and abilities. For instance, “an excellent student,” “above average,” and “completes work” are subjective and not personally identifiable.
TCNJ’s Notification of Rights under FERPA
Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) TCNJ students will be notified of their rights annually via their TCNJ email account. Through the annual notification students are informed that FERPA permits the release of directory information without the prior written consent of the student. However, it provides only that directory information may be released. The College of New Jersey is not obligated by FERPA law to release directory information to any external party.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights are:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605
Additional Resources from U.S. Department of Education