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FERPA

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act

The following are frequently asked questions in relation to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):

1. What is FERPA?
2. What rights does FERPA grant to students?
3. I want to review my disciplinary record. How do I do that?
4. What records does FERPA exclude from inspection?
5. How do I request that my disciplinary records be corrected?
6. Under what circumstances can the university disclose my education records without my consent?

1.  What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
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2.  What rights does FERPA grant to students?

Once enrolled at the George Washington University, students have the right to inspect and review their own education records, as defined in FERPA, within 45 days of when the university receives a request for access. 

Students also have a right to ask GW to correct any education records they believe are inaccurate or misleading.

GW may not disclose students’ education records without their consent, unless an exception applies. 

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if they believe the university has not complied with the requirements of FERPA.
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3.  I want to review my disciplinary record.  How do I do that?

A student who wants to inspect his or her disciplinary record should submit a written request to the GW Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities.  Students may also submit a written request to the GW Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities, which maintains records regarding student violations of university policy that do not result in disciplinary charges.  In either case a staff member will notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected or explain how the student may otherwise gain access to them. 
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4.  What records does FERPA exclude from inspection?

FERPA does not apply to certain records in the university’s possession so students have no right to inspect or review them under the statute.  These records include:

  1. Financial records of parents.
  2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation received by the university after January 1, 1975, to which the student has waived right of access.
  3. Personal notes of professors and other educational personnel.
  4. Campus law enforcement records.
  5. Employee files, if the student is employed by the University.
  6. Medical, counseling and psychiatric treatment records and case notes relating to a student.

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5.  How do I request that my disciplinary records be corrected?

If a student believes his or her disciplinary record is misleading or inaccurate, he or she should contact the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities, clearly identify the part of the record he or she believes should be corrected, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.

If the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities decides not to change the record as requested by the student, the student will be notified of that decision and informed about the procedure he or she can follow to appeal it.
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6.  Under what circumstances can the university disclose my education records without my consent?

The university may disclose without a student’s consent an education record or the personally identifiable information contained in it under limited circumstances. 

These circumstances include disclosure to protect the health or safety of the student or others, disclosure to other school officials for legitimate educational reasons, and disclosure to officials of other schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. 

The university may also disclose to parents of any student under the age of 21 if the student has violated the law or school policy regarding the possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs.

The university may also disclose without a student’s consent certain non-private “directory information” including name, address (including e-mail), telephone numbers, dates of attendance, enrollment status and other basic information. 
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