Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)

This information constitutes your official notification of rights granted to you under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office in the U.S. Department of Education. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99. FERPA applies to all educational agencies and institutions (e.g. schools) that receive funding under any program administered by the Department of Education.

In compliance with FERPA, the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) does not disclose personally identifiable information contained in student education records, except as authorized by law. Information about students’ rights under FERPA and UMMS implementation of FERPA is set forth below.

Student Rights under FERPA

In general, a student has the right under FERPA to:

    • Inspect his or her education records
    • Require that the University obtain his or her prior written consent before releasing personally identifiable information from education records
    • Request that corrections be made to education records if the student believes the records are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA

Definitions

For purposes of this notification, the University of Massachusetts Medical School uses the following definitions of terms.

A student is any person who attends or has attended the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Persons admitted but never enrolled in courses are not considered students.

Education records, with certain exceptions, are any information maintained by the University directly relating to a student. These records include files, documents, and materials in whatever medium (handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche) which contain information directly related to students and from which students can be personally (individually) identified.

Personally identifiable information means data or information which includes:

    • The name of the student, the student’s parent, or other family members
    • The student’s campus or home address
    • A personal identifier (such as a social security number or student ID number)
    • A list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student’s identity known with “reasonable certainty”

Directory information may include the following:

    • Student’s name
    • School or College
    • Academic program (degree, major, specialty)
    • Dates of attendance and or full-time/part-time status
    • Degrees, Certificates, honors, and awards received
    • The most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student

Privacy preferences

Unless restricted, UMMS may disclose any of the items of directory information without a student’s consent. Students may restrict the disclosure of any item of directory information by indicating this restriction on the Privacy Settings (FERPA Restrictions) page in the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions (PSCS) database.

The right to restrict disclosure of directory information does not include the right to remain anonymous in class and may not be used to impede classroom communication.

Inspection of Educational Records

If possible, students will have immediate access to their record. In no case will a student have to wait more than 45 days. If a student is required to wait, the office will inform him or her when the record will be available. A student will be required to establish identity with a picture ID to see his or her record.

Information Which a Student Does Not Have the Right to Inspect

A student does not have a right under FERPA to inspect information that is not an education record, such as:

    • Medical treatment records
    • Law enforcement records
    • Employment records (provided that employment is unrelated to student status)
    • Records containing information about the individual that were created or received after he or she is no longer a student and that are not directly related to the student’s attendance at the University
    • Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel that are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record
    • Peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor

Note: A student may have rights to inspect such records under other laws.

In addition, a student does not have the right to access certain education records, such as:

    • Confidential letters of recommendation if the student has waived his or her right of access in writing
    • Financial records of the student’s parents
    • Admissions records for a student who does not officially attend the program of admission. If the student completed a course at the University but never officially attended as a degree candidate in the program of admission, then the student has FERPA rights with respect to that course but does not have rights with respect to the admissions records for that program
    • Records of a student that contain information on other students. The student may inspect, review, or be informed of only the specific information about that student

Authorizing another Person to Inspect or Receive Copies of Your Records

A current or former student who wishes to permit another person to inspect or receive copies of the student’s education records must provide a signed and dated written consent which must:

    • Specify the records that may be disclosed
    • State the purpose of the disclosure
    • Identify the person or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made

When Disclosure is permitted without Prior Consent of the Student

In general, the University will not disclose personal information from a student’s education records without the student’s prior consent. However, the University, in compliance with the law, may disclose personal information without the student’s prior consent under these conditions:

A. To university officials, staff, and others engaged in activities on behalf of the University with a legitimate educational interest

The University discloses information to University officials, staff, and others whom the University has determined to have a legitimate educational interest. An individual has a legitimate educational interest if the individual needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities to the University. Such individuals include officers of the University, faculty, administrative staff, law enforcement and medical and legal personnel, and may include contractors, consultants and professionals engaged by the University where disclosure of the information is necessary for such individuals to fulfill their duties and responsibilities to the University. In addition, these individuals may include UMMS students, persons from outside the University, and volunteers, who are requested to serve on an authorized committee or board of the University (such as a disciplinary committee or the Board of Trustees) or to otherwise perform authorized tasks for the University.

B. The information that has been designated as directory information

The University of Massachusetts defines directory information as:

    • Student’s name
    • School or College
    • Academic program (degree, major, specialty)
    • Dates of attendance and or full-time/part-time status
    • Degrees, Certificates, honors, and awards received
    • The most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
    • Acknowledgment of a student's participation in officially recognized activities and sports
    • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
    • Appointment as a Resident Assistant or Community Development Assistant

For graduate students who are teaching credit courses:

    • Work department
    • Office address
    • Employment category

C. In health or safety emergency situations

In the case of an emergency, the University discloses information from education records to the appropriate parties, including parents, if the University deems that knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health, safety, or well-being of the student or other individuals. Such disclosure may include any disciplinary action previously taken against the student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety and well-being of that student, other students, or members of the University community.

D. In compliance with a subpoena

The University will make a reasonable effort to notify the student of the subpoena before complying. However, in the case of a subpoena issued for law enforcement purposes or an ex parte order under the USA Patriot Act, the University is not required to notify the student of the existence or the contents of the subpoena, or of the information furnished in response to the subpoena, if the court or other issuing agency has ordered that such information not be disclosed.

E. To officials of other institutions or organizations

    • To which the student seeks or intends to transfer or in which the student is already enrolled, provided the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.
    • In connection with the student’s placement or participation in internships, practica, affiliations or other programs related to the student’s courses or programs at the University
    • To which a student has applied for or from which he/she has received financial aid to support the student’s education, in cases where the information is related to (1) determining the eligibility for, amount of, or conditions of the aid, or (2) enforcing the terms and conditions of the aid

In cases where the University has previously transmitted such information to another institution or organization in which the student has enrolled, has been placed, or has sought financial aid, the University may send corrected records if there are changes to the information previously sent.

F. To parties who provided or created a record

The University may send education records back to the creator or sender of such records for confirmation of the authenticity of the record (e.g. of a transcript or letter).

G. To the parents of dependent students

In rare circumstances, the University may disclose information from a student’s records to the student’s parents without the student’s prior consent if the student meets the criteria of dependency as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. In cases of divorce or separation, when relying on dependency as the basis for communication, the University reserves the right to communicate with both parents unless provided with evidence that one parent’s rights have been legally revoked or otherwise limited.

H. To authorized representatives of certain government offices

The University will release information to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Education, and state and local educational authorities in connection with an audit or an evaluation of federal or state supported programs and to assure the enforcement of or compliance with federal or state legal requirements related to these programs.

I. In compliance with the Solomon Amendment

The University will release student information for the purposes of military recruiting to the Department of Defense. The information released is limited to student name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, levels of education and degrees received, prior military experience, and the most recent educational institution attended unless restricted.

J. In response to complaints and legal actions involving the student and the University

If a student or parent initiates legal action or brings complaints against the University, the University may disclose education records relevant to the response to the complaint without a court order or subpoena. In addition, in the event that the University initiates legal action against a parent or student, the University may disclose education records relevant to the action without a court order or subpoena.

K. To accredited organizations

The University may release information to organizations that accredit colleges and universities for the purpose of assisting their accrediting functions.

L. To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the University

The University may disclose information to organizations seeking to improve education for or on behalf of the University (e.g. developing predictive tests or administering student aid programs).

Limitations of Re-disclosures

Under FERPA, information disclosed by the University may be subject to restrictions against re-disclosure.

Amending Educational Records

Students have the right to request that inaccurate or misleading information in his or her education records be amended. While the University is not required to amend education records in accordance with a student's request, the University is required to consider the request. If the University decides not to amend a record in accordance with a student's request, the student will be informed of his or her right to a hearing on the matter. If, as a result of the hearing, the University still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to insert a statement in the record setting forth his or her views. That statement must remain with the contested part of the student’s record for as long as the record is maintained. However, while the FERPA amendment procedure may be used to challenge facts that are inaccurately recorded, it may not be used to challenge a grade, an opinion, or a substantive decision made by the University about a student. FERPA was intended to require only that schools conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations.

Complaint Procedure

A student has the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. A complaint must be submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the student knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. The complaint must contain specific factual allegations giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred, and it should be forwarded to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520