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FERPA/Access to Student Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides that federal funding will be withheld from any higher educational institution which denies a student the right to inspect and challenge the content of the student's cumulative record. In addition, the act imposes substantial restrictions upon access by others to a student's record without the student's written consent.
Full compliance with FERPA is University policy. UIC has a Student Records Policy for the administration of FERPA. Copies of that policy are available in the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Admissions and Records and online at http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/oar/uic_faculty_staff/student_records_policy.html. Also see related information at http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/current_students/campus_policies.html and http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/current_students/student_records.html.
What follows is a summary of some of the major points.
For the purposes of the Act, "student" is defined as a person who is or has been in attendance at UIC (or its predecessor Chicago Circle or Medical Center campuses), or any of its outlying centers or programs under its jurisdiction in a course of study either on campus or off campus, and for whom the University maintains education records or personally identifiable information. "Attendance" includes, but is not limited to, attendance in person or by correspondence. Applicants who have not been accepted or have been accepted, but have not actually enrolled are not "students" for purposes of FERPA and, therefore, do not have a right to access their applicant record. This is true even if the applicant is a current student in another program (i.e., undergraduate applying to graduate/professional school).
If any faculty member, administrator, department or office maintains records on a student, such records are defined by the Act as educational records, and they must comply with all the regulations within the UIC Student Records Policy. Student records are broadly defined to include such things as e-mail exchanges, interoffice memos, and notes to the file. NOTE: personal records and notes, which are kept in the sole possession of the maker thereof and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute are not considered "educational records".
In accordance with the Student Records Policy, Departments must:
- Provide access to students and other authorized individuals under the request procedure described below, and keep records of such access.
- Monitor the privacy of those files to be sure there is no unauthorized access, i.e., no access beyond appropriate University personnel with a "legitimate educational interest" as defined by the Student Records Policy.
Students or alumni seeking access to their records should access to their academic record in writing, directly to the office(s) that house the records. Separate requests must be completed for each record to be accessed. If the record in question is located in an academic department the student may initiate the request in either OAR or in the dean's office of the college or school of which the academic department is a unit. For all other records the request must be filed in OAR.
A student's request to see his/her record must be granted within a reasonable time, but in no case more than 45 days after the Request for Access to Student Record form was properly filed with the appropriate office.
Copies of student records will not be provided to parents without the student's prior written consent; however, parents of a dependent student may be granted access to the student's record without such consent under the following conditions:
- If the parent provides proof (i.e., a copy of the most recent tax return) that the student was claimed as a dependent on his/her last federal income tax return, s/he may be sent a copy of the offspring's transcript upon payment of the regular fee.
- Any parent who provides proof that he or she is the parent of a dependent student (as defined above) may be given the same access to other records pertaining to their offspring as that available to the students themselves.
A student's records may be released to others with the prior written consent of the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons, and to whom. Said consent may be given in Part I of the Request for Access to Student Record form or in a letter or other form containing the required information and the student's signature. The Student Records Policy identifies certain information ("Directory Information"), the disclosure of which would not require the student's consent. Please be aware that a student may opt out of the sharing of his/her directory information. The Office of Admissions and Records sends out a list of students each semester who have prohibited the release of even their directory information without their written consent.
The release of educational records to persons other than the student or parents without the student's prior written consent is strictly limited by FERPA. Subpoenas, judicial orders or requests from the U.S. Department of Justice, INS, and/or Department of Homeland Security for records must be immediately referred to the Office of University Counsel.
FERPA also gives students the right to challenge material contained in their records. Any request for modification, addition, or removal of any material in a record should be made initially to the custodian of the pertinent file. The process to be followed in responding to a student's challenge to his/her educational records can be found in the Student Records Policy. Be aware that the policy imposes certain time limits on responses to said challenges.