Privacy of Student Records

The following statement of policy and procedures has been adopted in compliance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended.

Students of record in attendance at the University will receive notice of their rights under FERPA by publication in the University Bulletin.  Student rights under FERPA are also published by the Office of the Registrar and are reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

I. Right to Inspect and Review Student Education Records

Any student, once enrolled at The George Washington University as a student of record, shall have the right to inspect and review the student's Education Records, as defined in FERPA, within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.  Students should submit to the University Registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect.  The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed. 

FERPA also excludes certain records from inspection and these records will not be made available.  The following records are specifically excluded from inspection:

1. Financial records of parents.

2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation entered in the education record after January 1, 1975, to which the student has waived right of access.

3. Personal notes of institutional, supervisory and educational personnel.

4. Campus law enforcement records, except reports of investigations and incidents that have been forwarded for action or information to other University officials.

5. Employee files, if the student is employed by the University.

6. Medical, psychological counseling and psychiatric records, or case notes maintained by appropriate professional personnel.  (Such records may however, be reviewed personally with an appropriate professional of the student's choice.)

7. Admissions record on file in other component units (of the University) in which the student has not yet been enrolled.

II.  Right to Request Amendment of Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act gives students the right to review their education record and the right to request the record’s amendment for any ministerial/clerical errors that are discovered after review. The process of requesting an amendment also includes provision for a formal hearing if there is disagreement between the student and the holder of the record as to whether an amendment should be made. Changing or amending the student’s educational record is limited to inaccurate, misleading information or if the information contained in the record is a violation of a student’s privacy rights. Amendments to a student’s education record on substantive matters such as a grade change (when the problem is not a recording error) or a change in the result of disciplinary adjudication are not covered by FERPA and will not be considered by the University under this procedure. To request an amendment to his or her education record, a student must follow the procedures listed below.

Requesting Record Review

A student wishing to review all or a portion of his or her education record must make a written request to review the record to the University Registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official who holds the record to be inspected. A University official will respond to such requests within fourteen (14) days to schedule a date for the review to occur. Depending on the amount of material to be reviewed, the review date may occur as late as forty-five (45) days after the request is made in order to allow requested materials to be gathered in one location.

Requesting Education Record Correction

After a student has reviewed his or her education record, a request to amend the record must be made in writing to the University official responsible for the record.

By law, the University is required to consider only requests to amend information that is inaccurately recorded. Requests for substantive changes such as a grade change, removal of materials such as received evaluations, or outcome in a judicial proceeding are not covered under the FERPA amendment proceeding.

A proper request to correct a student education record must:

  • Be written to the University official responsible for the record;
  • Clearly identify the part of the record they want to be changed; and
  • Specify why the record is inaccurate or misleading.

 Any written request that does not include the required information will not be considered and the requestor will be notified in writing that their request was not made properly.

Upon receipt of a proper request for amendment, the University will make a prompt determination within a reasonable time, but not more than thirty days, as to whether the proposed correction is accepted or rejected. The student will be notified in writing that the amendment has occurred or that the request is denied. A letter denying the request will state the reasons for the decision and notify the student of the right to request a hearing.

Requesting a Hearing

A hearing request must be made in writing by the student and directed to the University Registrar. The Registrar will notify the student, within a reasonable time after the request is received, but not more than thirty business days, as to the date, time and place of the hearing. In most circumstances, the hearing date will be within forty-five business days of such notice so that the student may be prepared for the hearing.

III. Right to Consent to Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information from Student Records

Any student has the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. 

One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (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 responsibility. 

Upon request, the University may disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

The University may release the following directory information upon request:  name, local address (including email), telephone numbers, likeness used in University publications, photographs, name and address of emergency contact, dates of attendance, school or division of enrollment, enrollment status, field of study, credit hours earned, degrees earned, honors received, participation in University recognized organizations and activities (including intercollegiate athletics) and height, weight and age of members of athletic teams.  Date of birth will be considered directory information only for the purpose of complying with applicable laws.

Any student who does not wish directory information released must file written notice to this effect with Office of the Registrar staff located in Colonial Central.

Absent a court order to the contrary, the University is required to make a reasonable effort to notify the student in the event of a subpoena of his or her educational record or a judicial order requiring the release of such data.

IV.  Right to File a Complaint

Each student has the right to file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning alleged failure by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  Complaints should be filed in writing to the following address:

Family Policy Compliance Office
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-0498

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