What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides eligible students the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records and to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.

FERPA protects the education records of students (traditional and those enrolled in distance and online courses) who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or status with regard to parental dependency. The education records of students who have applied to but have not attended an institution are not subject to FERPA guidelines, nor are deceased students.

The University has designated certain information contained in the educational records of its students as directory information pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This information is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information at Charleston Southern University includes, but is not limited to:

  • name, address and telephone listing
  • e-mail address
  • date and place of birth
  • field(s) of study
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of student-athletes
  • dates of attendance, degrees and awards
  • photographs
  • most recent previous school attended
  • full-time or part-time status

Directory information cannot include a student’s social security number, student ID number, race/ethnicity or gender or religion. Directory information may be disclosed by the University for any purpose considered legitimate without student consent. Students have the right, however, to refuse the disclosure of any or all of the information designated as directory information. Students refusing to have any or all of the designated directory information disclosed without consent must submit written notification to the Office of the Registrar. To properly enforce a refusal request, written notification should be filed no later than one week from the beginning of a term in which a student has enrolled. However, refusal notifications will be accepted, processed and enforced as soon as possible anytime they are received. Careful consideration should be given before any disclosure refusal is submitted. The University’s enforcement of a refusal notification may have unexpected or undesirable ramifications.

1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The appropriate 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.

2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend a record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s educational 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 or 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 school officials in performing legitimate tasks including assignments while working under any College Work Study (CWS) program agreement. A school official has a legitimate interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University may disclose records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Charleston Southern University to comply with the requirements of FERPA . The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Ave SW Washington, DC 20202-4605

With certain exceptions (noted below), an education record is any record (1) which contains information that is personally identifiable to a student, and (2) is maintained by the university. With the exception of information about other students, financial records of parents and confidential letters of reference to which the student has waived access, a student has the right of access to his or her education records.

Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, email, magnetic tape, film, diskette, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

  • Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel.
  • Law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit.
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless contingent upon attendance).
  • Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment.
  • Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution, i.e., alumni records.

Students must authorize the release of their transcripts by written request with signature, by completing and signing a transcript request form available in the Office of Student Records, or by submitting the request online via a secured portal. There is a $10.00 fee for transcripts. The receipt of a written request with signature to release an education record via fax is permissible.

The student and any outside party who has the students written request. School officials (as defined by the University) who have legitimate educational interests. Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

A person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as the University makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student first. Normally, the University will comply with a subpoena after two weeks have elapsed from the day of notifying the student.

When the disclosure is (one or more of the following):

  • To school officials (defined in policy) who have a legitimate educational interest.
  • To federal, state and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs.
  • In connection with financial aid; this includes Veterans benefits.
  • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions.
  • To accrediting organizations.
  • To parents of a dependent student.
  • To comply with a judicial order or subpoena.
  • In a health or safety emergency.
  • Releasing directory information.
  • Releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.

To grant someone access to your educational records, i.e., grades, billing, tuition and fees assessments, financial aid (including scholarships, grants work-study or loan amounts), student employment and other student record information, you must fill out a Student Information Release Authorization through your MyCSU account. The form is located in the Bookmarks section of your Student tab.

A currently-enrolled student may restrict access to their directory information, or may remove their information from public directories, by completing the Opt Out of Directory Information Form, through your MyCSU account. Restricted information remains so until revoked by the student. The form is located in the Forms section of your Student tab.