FERPA

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all educatioinal agencies and institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department of Education.  Additional information can be found by visiting the U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office website.

When Do FERPA Rights Begin?

The federal government has delineated that student FERPA rights accrue when the following events occur, with a student, for FERPA purposes, being defined as follows: 

When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, they become an "eligible student," and all rights under FERPA transfer from the student’s parents/guardians to the student. FERPA regulations define “student” as any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains education records.  Attendance begins the first day the student attends class.  The regulations provide that attendance includes, but is not limited to, attendance in person or by correspondence, videoconference, satellite, Internet, or other electronic information and telecommunications technologies for students who are not physically present in the classroom.

What Rights Do Students Have Under FERPA?

In accordance with regulations issued under FERPA, the College of Charleston provides an Annual Notification of FERPA Rights for Students (PDF) to our enrolled students of their rights under FERPA; as well as an explanation of the exceptions under FERPA that allow the College to disclose information from the student's education record without consent.  Students have the right to:

  • inspect and review their education record within 45 days of the day the College of Charleston receives a request for access to those records
  • request an amendment to their education record
  • provide written consent before the College of Charleston discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without student consent
  • file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office

What is Directory Information?

FERPA requires the College of Charleston to designate which information about students will be considered directory information.  Directory information may be released without consent.  The College of Charleston has designated the following information as directory information that may be released to third parties upon their request:

  • Student Name
  • Mailing address
  • College-issued e-mail address
  • Image/photograph of student (includes images from college yearbooks, CofC publications and other official CofC marketing media only)
  • Major field(s) of study
  • Class standing/Grade level (e.g. sophomore, junior, etc.)
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degree(s) received
  • Awards and honors received
  • Enrollment status (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, full-time or part-time)

Can a Student Restrict the Release of Directory Information?

Yes, students who do not wish the College to disclose directory information from their education records without prior written consent must submit a request to the Office of the Registrar to have this information withheld.  This request can be made electronically via Banner Self-Service in MyCharleston (Banner Self-Service > Student > Release of Directory Information) or by completing a directory information opt-out form.  

Students should consider very carefully the effect of a decision to withhold directory information. If that decision is made, any requests for such information from non-College persons or organizations will be refused (subject to the exceptions stated in the FERPA Annual Notification and on the Registrar’s FERPA website) unless the student has subsequently removed the restriction via Banner Self-Service or by filling out the rescission section of the Opt-Out form that is in your file in the Registrar’s Office. If a student does not specifically request the withholding of directory information, as indicated above, the College assumes that he or she approves of the disclosure of such information. The College disclaims any and all liability for inadvertent disclosure of directory information designated to be withheld.

Upon receipt, your request to withhold directory information will remain in effect until such time as you inform us, by filing the rescission or updating Banner Self-Service, that you no longer wish to keep your information private. 

Note: When you graduate, your name will appear in the College of Charleston Commencement Program even if you have requested the withholding of Directory Information.  If you wish to exclude your name on the Commencement Program, you must provide your signed, written request to the Registrar’s Office no later than October 1st for the December Commencement and March 1st for the May Commencement.

How Can a Student Release Non-Directory Information?

Disclosure of a student's confidential education records requires prior written consent of the student (unless disclosure is permitted under certain exceptions to FERPA set forth in Section 99.31 of the FERPA Regulations). A student's written consent may be obtained by using the Student FERPA Consent Form (PDF).

The form can be signed by the student to authorize a one-time release or it can be signed to allow a standing order for release until official revocation in the department where the Consent Form was filed. The student indicates on the form the exact records which can be released by which office and to whom they may be released. (NOTE: Only the form which is on file can be used for the release of information and not a copy of a form brought in by a third party.)

If the student wishes to release their records from more than one Office (e.g., the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Student Affairs) then a separate form will need to be presented by the student and kept on file in each Office.

The College assumes a standing order is to be honored until the student revokes it. If a standing order for release is given, it is the student’s responsibility to revoke that order at the time the student no longer wishes to release his or her records to the third party(ies) noted.

FERPA and Parents/Guardians

When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, they become an "eligible student," and all rights under FERPA transfer from the student’s parents/guardians to the student. This means that all academic information regarding the student goes directly to the student unless the student has provided written permission to release the information to a specified party. 

The College of Charleston may, at its sole discretion, disclose education record information to parents/guardians, without the written consent of the eligible student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under IRS rules (as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986).  The parent(s)/guardian(s) must complete the Parent Verification of Student Dependency and Request for Educational Record Information (PDF) form and provide the appropriate Federal Income Tax Return documentation. Parent(s)/Guardian(s)s may submit this form in person with a valid state or U.S. government issued photo identification. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) who are unable to bring a form in person may submit the form via postal mail.  The College of Charleston reserves the right to request further evidence to authenticate identity for all submitted requests, which may include notarized signatures and an affidavit.  All requests may be subject to review by the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).  Please note, the quickest way to receive information about your student's grades or academic progress is for the student to provide it to you.

Solomon Amendment and FERPA

Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows military recruiters to access some address, biographical and academic program information on students age 17 and older.

The Department of Education has determined the Solomon Amendment supersedes most elements of FERPA. An institution is therefore obligated to release data included in the list of “student recruiting infor­mation,” which may or may not match the College of Charleston's FERPA directory information list. However, if the student has submitted a request (electronically via Banner Self-Service or by submitting a directory information opt-out form) to the Office of the Registrar to restrict the release of Directory Information, then no information from the student's education record will be released under the Solomon Amendment.

Information Designated by the Solomon Amendment as Student Recruitment Information:

  • Name 
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Age 
  • Major 
  • Class Level (e.g. Freshman, Sophomore, etc.) 
  • Degree awarded

Under the Solomon amendment, Student Recruitment Information will be released for military recruitment purposes only. Military recruiters may request Student Recruitment Information once each term or semester for each of the 12 eligible units within the five branches of the service:

  • Army: Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard
  • Navy: Navy, Navy Reserve
  • Marine Corps: Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve
  • Air Force: Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air Force National Guard
  • Coast Guard: Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve

Student Forms

Forms must be completed in black or blue ink and may not contain any marked out data. 

Students may submit these forms in person with a valid state or U.S. government issued photo identification. Forms may not be submitted by another party on behalf of the student.  Students who are unable to bring a form in person may submit the form via postal mail or their college-issued email account (g.cofc.edu).  The College of Charleston reserves the right to request further evidence to authenticate identity for all submitted requests, which may include notarized signatures and an affidavit.  All requests may be subject to review by the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).

If you have any questions regarding these forms or required procedures, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Questions?

Please contact the Office of the Registrar at 843.953.5668.