FERPA

Hope College upholds the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, ensuring that student records are confidential. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment) was passed by Congress in 1974 to protect the confidentiality of student records and information. Hope College’s policy on student records incorporates the rights guaranteed by FERPA. Students are notified of their FERPA rights annually through publication in the Hope College Catalog and the student handbook.

Questions about FERPA policy as it relates to Hope College should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.

FERPA FOR STUDENTS

Your FERPA rights begin when your admittance to Hope is accepted through payment of your enrollment deposit. You have the right to:

  • Inspect and review your education records
  • Request and amend your education records
  • Limit disclosure of personally-identifiable information, known as “directory information”
  • File a complaint with the Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with FERPA
EDUCATION RECORDS

Education records include any information directly related to you, including (but not limited to) academic, student employment, student development, and alumni records.

Your family may only access your educational records with your written consent. Release forms are available in the Registrar's Office.

If you are a dependent student, your parents/guardians have access to your financial and financial aid records, unless you have requested in writing that access to these records be restricted.

Education records are kept by the following offices:

 Type of Record Custodian of Record
Academic Registrar
Advising Faculty Advisor and Registrar
Alumni Alumni and Family Engagement
Application Admissions
Career Services Career Development Center
Financial Financial Aid
Medical Health Center
Psychological Counseling and Psychological Services
Student Employment Human Resources
Student Development: Judicial, Housing, Residence Life Student Development
DIRECTORY INFORMATION

Public/directory information is information that is contained in your educational records, which would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if the information were disclosed. This information includes:

  • Name
  • Address, including permanent, local and email
  • Name of parents or guardians
  • Previous schools attended
  • Dates of attendance
  • Awards and honors received
  • Degrees awarded and dates of degrees
  • Majors and minors
  • Official Hope College ID photo
  • Class standing
  • Enrollment status (full time/part time)
  • Athletes: statistics (weight, height, etc.), included on team activity sheets

Unless you request in writing that directory information be withheld, it is available to others. Hope College exercises restraint in the release of this information and keeps your welfare in the forefront as it determines whether to release directory information.

WITHHOLDING DIRECTORY INFORMATION

To withhold the release of directory information, you must submit a request in writing; forms are available in the Registrar’s Office.

Hope College is required by law (the Solomon Amendment) to provide the name, address and other demographic information of all students to any legitimate military recruiter who makes such a request in writing to the Registrar’s Office. According to the Solomon Amendment, this release must be honored even if a student has submitted a request to withhold directory information.

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Information other than directory information is considered confidential and its confidentiality is guaranteed.

There are a few instances where some confidential information may be released. These include:

  • Hope College faculty and staff who have a legitimate educational interest
  • Pursuant to a court order or subpoena
  • The National Student Clearinghouse (for financial aid purposes)
  • The protection or safety of you or others

In other instances, no confidential information will be released without your written consent.

For more information, contact the Registrar’s Office.

FERPA for Families
Sending students to college is a life transition for families, not just for the students themselves.

One of the transitions involves how information is communicated. In elementary, middle and high school, your student probably brought home lots of graded work. You may have attended parent-teacher conferences, been sent quarterly report cards and been notified about disciplinary issues. You may even have been able to track your student's grades and assignments through an online account.

Under FERPA regulations, when a student goes to college, the right to see such information transfers from family members to the student.  

This clear-cut regulation can be frustrating for families who have previously had frequent and easy access to their student’s education records. How can families know whether their student is attending classes? What grades they are earning? What progress are they making toward completing their degree?

Our best advice is to talk with your student. Talk with your student about what information you think should be shared. You may want to see midterm or final grades. If you have agreed to pay some or all the tuition bill if your student earns certain grades, remind your student of this agreement. Keep connected: ask questions about classes, schedules and progress. Students who know that their families have high ideals of conduct and a realistic approach to academics are better equipped to meet academic expectations and to conduct themselves responsibly.

Even though the Registrar’s Office cannot release specific academic information about students, we are happy to respond to your questions about campus policies and any concerns you may have about your student so we can follow up appropriately.

Our goals for your student are the same as yours: to foster academic success, independence, self-reliance, good judgment and mature relationships with others. For this reason, we encourage students to communicate with their families about important academic, personal and medical issues.  

Parents are notified if their student is placed on academic probation or on the Dean’s List, though the student’s GPA is not shared. Families are also notified if their involvement is important for the resolution of judicial or behavioral issues.
FERPA for Faculty and Staff

Maintaining the confidentiality of students’ records is everyone’s responsibility — because it’s the right thing to do and because the federal government requires it through FERPA.

If a student has a confidentiality hold, absolutely no information may be given out or verified to anyone (even within the college) without the student’s express permission.

PROTECTING EDUCATION RECORDS

Students’ education records are confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student. In practical terms, this means that students’ class schedule, grades or progress in a class or program should not be shared with others, including family members. Grades should not be posted publicly (by name, ID number or other personal identifiers); graded materials should not be put in places where others can see the grades; class lists should not be shared with others outside the college. Faculty and staff have access to students’ education records only if they have a legitimate need to know.

If you have designated any student workers (paper graders, TAs, etc.) as “teachers” or “non-editing teachers,” you are responsible for making sure they understand these basic rules of confidentiality.

If you are purging old documents with students’ confidential information on it, make sure to shred it, or bring it to the Registrar’s Office and we will shred it for you.

In some cases, faculty or staff may be asked for student information for accreditation, etc. Remember that only directory information may be shared, but even that should be provided only on an as-needed or specifically-requested basis. Use caution when sharing data outside of the college. If you have doubts about sharing information, contact the Registrar’s Office.

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