New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) guidelines for compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Students have specific, protected rights regarding the release of such records and FERPA requires that institutions adhere strictly to these guidelines. In accordance with the statute and the FERPA regulations issued by the Department of Education, New Brunswick Theological Seminary (“NBTS” or “the seminary”) has adopted the following policies and procedures:
A “student” includes any person with respect to whom NBTS maintains an education record, whether or not that person is currently in attendance. Persons who have not been in attendance are not “students” entitled to review their records. Thus, persons who have applied to and been admitted by the seminary, but who have not yet begun to attend classes, are not eligible to review their records.
FERPA affords students the right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the seminary receives a request for access. Students must submit a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect to the Registrar’s Office (official custodian of the records.) The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The seminary is not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for students to review the records. Should the seminary agree to make copies of education records, a fee may be applied.
Students have the right to request that the seminary correct or delete records which they believe to be inaccurate, misleading or in violation of his or her rights of privacy. If the seminary decides not to amend the record, the student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the seminary still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
Generally, the seminary must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student’s education record however, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
School officials with legitimate educational interest;
Other schools to which a student is transferring;
Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
There are two types of educational records as defined under FERPA, Directory Information and Non-Directory Information. Each type of educational record is afforded different disclosure protections.
Some information in a student’s educational record is defined as directory information under FERPA. Under a strict reading of FERPA, NBTS may disclose this type of information without the written consent of the student. The student may exercise the option to restrict the release of directory information by submitting a formal request to the Registrar to limit disclosure.
Directory information may include: the student’s name, date of birth, current or last known address (including email), phone numbers, student ID number, denomination, dates of attendance, full or part time status, major field/concentration of study, expected date of completion, photograph, most recent education institution(s) attended and degree(s) awarded.
The above information is considered by NBTS to be directory information and, as such, may be disclosed to a third party upon request however we typically request, in writing, permission from our students to disclose directory information to outside/third parties.
Non-directory information is any educational record not considered directory information. Non-directory information must not be released to anyone, including parents of the student, without the prior written consent of the student. Further, faculty and staff can access non-directory information only if they have a legitimate academic need to do so.
Non-directory information includes: Social security numbers; student identification number; race, ethnicity, and/or nationality; gender, transcripts; grade reports, and enrollment status
Transcripts are non-directory information and, therefore, are protected educational records under FERPA. Students have a right to privacy regarding transcripts held by NBTS where third parties seek transcript copies. NBTS requires that students first submit a written request or complete an official transcript request form to have transcripts sent to any third party as the privilege of privacy of this information is held by the student under FERPA. The seminary will not fax transcripts because this process cannot guarantee a completely secure transmission of the student’s grades to third parties.
A student’s prior written consent is always required before NBTS can legitimately disclose non-directory information. However, prior written consent must include the following elements:
The current date;
Specify the records to be disclosed;
Identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure is to be made;
The signature of the student whose record is to be disclosed;
The signature of the custodian of the educational record.
Prior written consent is not required when disclosure is made directly to the student or to other school officials within NBTS where there is a legitimate educational interest. A legitimate educational interest may include enrollment or transfer matters, financial aid issues, or information requested by national or regional accrediting organizations.
The seminary will not require prior written consent to disclose non-directory information where the health and safety of the student is at issue, when complying with a judicial order or subpoena, or where, as a result of a crime of violence, a disciplinary hearing was conducted by the school, a final decision was recorded, and the alleged victim seeks disclosure.
The seminary will annually inform students of these guidelines and of their rights under FERPA via student e-mail communication and/or the seminary website. Visit www.nbts.edu for more information.
The Solomon Amendment to FERPA requires the seminary, upon request, to provide “student recruiting information” on any currently enrolled student who is at least 17 years old to any branch of the armed services. “Student recruiting information” is defined by federal law as name, address, telephone numbers, age or date of birth, class level, degrees received, major, most recent educational institution attended. Recruiters must submit their requests in writing to the Registrar’s Office.
The name and address of the Office that administers Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-4605