Why should I care about FERPA?
If you're a student, it's important for you to understand your rights under FERPA. If you're a parent, you'll need to understand how the law changes once your student enters a post-secondary institution. If you're a University employee, you'll need to understand what information can and cannot be released, and the appropriate procedures for release of student information.
What are students' rights under FERPA?
Eligible students have four primary rights under FERPA including the right to:
- inspect their education records,
- consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent,
- seek correction of their records, to prevent inaccurate or misleading information, and
- file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if they feel their rights are being violated.
Do parents have any rights under FERPA?
In primary and secondary educational institutions (i.e., K-12), all FERPA rights belong to the parent. However, when the student reaches the age of 18 or begins to attend a post-secondary institution regardless of age, all FERPA rights transfer to the student.
Policy regarding personally identifiable student records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. They are:
- 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 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.
- 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 the 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.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education 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 Governors; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Missouri State University-West Plains 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 Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605.
- The right to obtain a copy of the written institutional policy adopted by this institution in compliance with FERPA, from the office of registration and records, Cass Hall.
Missouri State University-West Plains publishes a notice of student rights under FERPA annually. Electronic bulletins are sent out to all students with the Consumer and Safety Information Notice, information is distributed to all students attending student advisement and registration (STAR) orientation and a copy of the FERPA notice and references where FERPA notification can be found in included with the Federally Mandated Information notice that is distributed to all students, faculty, and staff. The entire Policy Regarding Personally Identifiable Student Records is available on the Missouri State University-West Plains website or upon request to the office of registration and records. Additionally, information regarding FERPA is published in the undergraduate catalog.
The personally identifiable educational records of each student and former student maintained by the University are open for inspection by the student except in limited cases where the privacy, confidentiality, or professional privilege of another person is involved, as authorized by law. Personally identifiable records maintained by the University are listed below. Students who wish to inspect and review their records should contact the responsible official at the location indicated.
|Type of record||Location||Responsible official|
|Academic||Office of registration and records - Cass Hall||Registrar|
|Admission||Office of admissions - Cass Hall||Coordinator of admissions|
|Career placement||Career services office - Cass Hall||Coordinator of career services|
|Financial aid||Office of financial aid - Cass Hall||Coordinator of financial aid|
|Advisement center*||Advisement and academic coaching center for empowering student success - Garnett library lower level||Coordinator advisement and academic coaching center for empowering student success|
|Disciplinary||Student life and development - Putnam 115||Coordinator of student life and development|
|Residence||Residence life - Putnam 115||Coordinator of student life and development|
*Advisement records are also maintained in the various departmental and faculty advisor offices.
Notwithstanding the above inclusive list, the University reserves the right to refuse to permit inspection of the following records: Financial records of parents (unless the parents have given written permission for the information to be released to their student/child); confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the education records of a student prior to January 1, 1975, if such letters and statements were solicited or provided with an assurance or understanding of confidentiality, and the letters and statements have been used only for the purpose for which they were intended; confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the education records of a student after January 1, 1975, respecting admission to an educational institution, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition, provided the student has waived his/her right to inspect and review those letters and statements of recommendation; records of instruction, supervisory, and administrative personnel, and agents which are in the possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except the maker’s temporary substitute; employment records used only in relation to an individual’s employment by Missouri State–West Plains which are maintained in the normal course of business, relating exclusively to the individual’s capacity as an employee, and are not available for use for other purposes; records which relate to an individual as a person after he or she no longer attends or participates in an educational activity for which Missouri State–West Plains awards a greater credit.
Records are not maintained in a central location on the campus. Requests to review records must be made separately to the responsible official of each office which maintains records. The responsible official shall comply with a request as soon as possible, but in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made. The request should identify as accurately as possible the specific records the student wishes to inspect and review. The University will respond to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of records. When a record contains personally identifiable information about more than one student, a student may inspect only that information which relates to him/her.
A student has the right to a copy of any educational record to which he/she is permitted access under this policy. The student is responsible for the cost of reproduction. The cost of reproduction shall be the usual rate charged by the administrative unit handling the request, but the charge shall not exceed 10 cents per page.
A student may waive the right to inspect personally identifiable records maintained by Missouri State University-West Plains, but the University may not require such a waiver as a condition of attendance.
Request to amend education records
A student who believes that information contained in his/her education is inaccurate, misleading or violates privacy or other rights may request that the records be amended. The responsible official shall then decide whether or not to amend the record. If the record is not amended, the student will be advised of his/her right to a hearing.
In most cases, the decision of the responsible official will be final. However, a student may elect to file an appeal in writing to the chief academic officer in order to challenge the content of the educational record. (This right extends to reviewing grades only where the grade assigned by the professor is allegedly inaccurately entered into a record.) A disinterested hearing officer will be appointed who shall afford the student full opportunity to present evidence in support of the challenge. The hearing shall be held within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed thirty (30) days under normal circumstances, after the institution has received the request, and the student shall be given notice of the date, place and time reasonably in advance of the hearing. The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues, and may be assisted or represented by individuals of his or her choice at his or her own expense, including an attorney. The hearing officer shall render a decision within a reasonable time after the hearing, not to exceed thirty (30) days, and inform the student in writing of the outcome. The decision shall be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing and shall include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision. If the hearing officer decides that the record is not inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the student, the student shall then have the right to place in the education record a statement commenting upon the information in the education record and/or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing official. Any such written explanation then becomes a part of the education record. If the education records of the student or the contested portion thereof is disclosed to any party, the explanation shall also be disclosed to that party.
Information contained in a student’s records remains confidential between the student and Missouri State University-West Plains and will not be released to third parties without the written consent of the student, with the following exceptions:
- Releases to the following University faculty, staff, and other designated officials, who, to carry out their responsibilities, have a legitimate educational interest.
- Members of the Board of Governors;
- A person approved by and under contract or appointment to the University Board of Governors in an academic or faculty position;
- University administrators;
- A person employed by the University as a temporary substitute for an administrative staff member or faculty member for the period of his or her performance as a substitute; and,
- A person employed by the University or under contract to the Board of Governors or otherwise performing a special administrative task. These will be persons such as secretaries, clerks, attorneys, auditors, disciplinary and judicial panel members including appointed students, and consultants, for the period of their performance as an employee or contractor.
University officials who meet the criteria listed above will have access to personally identifiable information contained in student education records if they have a "legitimate educational interest" defined as the need to know in order to:
- Releases in accordance with lawful subpoena or court order. The University will make a reasonable effort to notify the student before it makes disclosure under this provision, unless such disclosure is in compliance with a federal grand jury subpoena or other subpoena issued for law enforcement purpose and the court or other issuing agency has ordered the existence or contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed;
- Releases to representatives of agencies or organizations from which the student has received financial aid or to whom the student has applied to receive financial aid in order to: (a) establish the student’s eligibility for the aid; (b) determine the amount of the financial aid; (c) establish the conditions for the receipt of the financial aid; or (d) enforce the terms of the agreement between the provider and receiver of the financial aid;
- Releases to officials of other educational institutions to which the student seeks or intends to enroll may be forwarded on request by the institution. The student may request a copy of records transferred, as well as an opportunity for hearing as described in this policy, upon request by the student;
- Releases to others specifically exempted from the prior consent requirement by the act (including personally identifiable information contained in a student’s educational record which state law adopted prior to November 1974, required the University to disclose to state or local officials, or pursuant to state statute adopted after November 19, 1974, concerning the juvenile justice system and its ability to effectively serve, prior to adjudication, the student whose records are released and the officials to whom the records are disclosed shall certify in writing that the information will not be disclosed to any other party, except as provided under state law, without prior written consent), and in circumstances where the University has entered into a written agreement or contract for an organization to conduct a study on the University’s behalf to develop tests, administer student aid or improve instruction, if the study does not permit personal identification of parents and students by individuals other than the representatives of the organization and the information is destroyed or no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted;
- Releases to accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions;
- Releases to a court in cases of legal action between the University and a parent or student of education records of the student that are relevant to the legal action;
- Releases of "directory information"; (see section "directory information," following);
- Releases to parents of the student if the parents claim the student as a dependent under the Internal Revenue code. The University will exercise this option only on the condition that evidence of such dependencies furnished to the Registrar and all requests for disclosures under this provision are referred to that office;
- Releases to appropriate parties in connection with a health or safety emergency if the official deems:
- The disclosure to be warranted by the seriousness of the threat to the health and safety of the student or other persons;
- The information is necessary to meet the emergency;
- The persons to whom the information is to be disclosed are qualified and in a position to deal with the emergency; and
- Time is an important and limiting factor in dealing with the emergency.
- Disclosure to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary of Education, or state or local educational authorities (including Veterans Administration programs) in connection with an audit or evaluation of federal or state-supported programs or for the enforcement of compliance with federal legal requirements related to those programs, or to the Attorney General of the United States, provided the information is protected in a manner that it does not permit personal identification of individuals by anyone except the officials, and the information is destroyed when no longer needed for purposes listed in this paragraph;
- Releases of "criminal investigation and incident reports" of the office of student services pursuant to the order issued by the United States District court, Western District, Southern Division dated March 13, 1991.
- Releases to an alleged victim of any crime of violence, as the term is defined in Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code, or a non-forcible sexual offense, the final results of any disciplinary proceedings conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of that crime with respect to that crime, regardless of whether the institution concluded a violation was committed.
- Upon appropriate request and pursuant to the Sunshine Law, including payment of appropriate fees and costs, the University will release the final results (defined as the name of the student charged, the violation that the student was found to have committed, and any sanction imposed by the University on that student) of any disciplinary proceeding under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence (as that term is defined in Section 16 of Title 18 of the United States Code), or a non forcible sex offense, if the Plaintiff determines as a result of that disciplinary proceeding that a student committed a violation of the University’s rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense, as authorized by 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(6)(B) and (C).
- When the University has determined a student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to campus rules regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, the University may disclose to parents or legal guardians such information if the student is less than 21 years of age and has been found responsible for violating campus rules regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. Parents or guardians of students under the age of 21 can be notified of such determinations regarding violations of University narcotic or other controlled substance policies and those alcohol violations that result in an assessment for chemical dependency, residence hall probation, or a more severe sanction. Officials of the University may not disclose personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education record, except directory information, absent circumstances listed above, except with the student’s written consent. The written consent must include, at least: (1) a specification of the information the student consents to be disclosed; (2) the purpose for which disclosure may be made; (3) the person or organization or the class of persons or organizations to whom disclosure may be made; and (4) the date of the consent and, if appropriate, the date when the consent is terminated. Such written consent may be given directly to the University by the parent or eligible student, or by the party seeking the student’s educational record having obtained such written consent from the parent or eligible student. The student may obtain a copy of any records the University discloses by the student’s written consent.
Records of disclosures
For each request for disclosure of information contained in the student’s education record or for access to the record made by persons other than university officials or the student or parent, to disclosures made pursuant to court orders and subpoenas pursuant to paragraph 2 above, to disclosures of directory information, or to those requests accompanied by the student’s prior written consent, the University will maintain a record of such requests and disclosures, except for requests for directory information, which indicates: (1) the parties who have requested or obtained personally identifiable information from the education records of the student; and (2) the legitimate interests these parties had in requesting or obtaining the information. Students are permitted to inspect the record of disclosures. A record of request and disclosure will not be maintained if the student provides written consent prior to the disclosure.
The University will not release information containing any student’s education records, except directory information, to any third parties except school officials, to lawfully issued court orders and subpoenas, to parents of students under paragraph 9 or 13, or pursuant to the Sunshine Law under paragraph 12, except on the condition that the party to whom the information is disclosed will not disclose personally identifiable information without the prior written consent of the student (or parent for elementary or secondary students). All such disclosures will inform the party to whom the disclosure is made of this requirement.
"Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); the University is required to identify and make available upon request, to those needing such information, directory information which has been so identified. Other non-directory information is available to Missouri State–West Plains faculty and staff who have a "need to know" this information to conduct business and provide service to students, unless that information is prohibited from release by either a Privacy Hold, or a FERPA Hold."
For distribution to the general public, Missouri State University-West Plains has defined the following as directory information:
- Telephone number
- BearPass Email
- Major field of study
- Classification (e.g. sophomore)
- Enrollment status (full-time, part-time, or less than part-time)
- Participation in recognized activities and sports, including photographs of athletes,
- Dates of attendance, (including matriculation and withdrawal dates),
- Degrees and certificates received including date awarded as well as lists of graduates to newspapers.
- Awards received, Including dean's list and chancellor's list scholastic honors, departmental honors, memberships in national honor societies, athletic letters, and university-funded scholarships (excluding those that are need based)
- Previous education institutions attended.
With appropriate student approval, indications of religious preference along with name, address and local telephone number can be distributed to the Campus Ministries Association.
Requests for verifications of degrees or enrollment will be directed to the National Student Clearinghouse. Requestors may request this information online at www.degreeverify.org.
Directory information may be disclosed by the University for any purpose at its discretion, without the consent of a student. However, A FERPA hold may be requested by currently-enrolled students. This non-disclosure option means that the university may not release any directory information about the student (except as permitted under the provisions of FERPA). The University may not even acknowledge to third parties that the person is a student at the institution.
FERPA Hold-Request to Prevent Disclosure of Student Information
In accordance with the FERPA Policy, currently enrolled students may request that the University not release any "directory information" by submitting a "Request to Prevent Disclosure of Student Information"
Submit your form one of the following ways:
- In person at the Office of the Registrar, Cass Hall. Our office hours are Monday Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Mail to: Office of the Registrar, Missouri State University-West Plains, 128 Garfield Ave. West Plains, MO 65775 (Include a copy of your student ID)
- Email scanned form to WPRR@missouristate.edu from your Missouri State University email account
- Fax to 417-255-7977 (Include a copy of your student ID)
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FERPA Hold Removal
To rescind a FERPA hold, complete the FERPA Hold Removal form and bring it and your student ID to the Office of the Registrar, Cass Hall, for processing.
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Release of Information Authorization
A student may authorize the University to disclose education records that are otherwise protected under FERPA. The release form must be completed, signed, dated, and must specify the records to be disclosed and the identity of the recipient. Forms are accepted in person, from the student’s MSU email account or by mail or fax if the form is notarized.
Submit your form to the office to whom you have authorized to disclose your education records in one of the following ways:
- In person (you must display a photo ID or else, have your form notarized).
- Mail notarized form to: (Office Name), Missouri State University, 901 S. National Ave, Springfield, MO 65897
- Email scanned, notarized form to the department email account from your Missouri State email account
- Fax notarized form to the department
A list of departments can be found here: Helpful Phone Numbers.
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The University will give annual public notice to students of the categories of information designated as directory information. Currently-enrolled students have the right to suppress disclosure of their directory information by requesting a FERPA Hold. These holds do apply retroactively to previous releases of directory information and will remain applicable until the student submits a written request specifying otherwise.
Any student refusing to have directory information disclosed must file written notification to this effect requesting a Privacy Hold or FERPA Hold with the University during regular business hours. Forms for this purpose are available in the office of registration and records, Cass Hall. The written notification does not apply retroactively to previous releases of directory information (e.g., once the Campus Directory has been published, the directory information contained therein will remain). To prevent publication of directory information in the campus directory, written notification must be filed no later than the second week of classes during the fall semester.
In the event a refusal is not filed, the University assumes that a student does not object to the release of the directory information designated.
Where can I find more information about FERPA?
- The entire Missouri State Student Rights (FERPA) Policy is available in the University Policy Library.
- Many questions are addressed in the FERPA Frequently Asked Questions. Contact the Office of the Registrar, Cass Hall Room, 417-255-7979, if you have any additional questions.
- A FERPA online training program is available to all University employees in My Missouri State → Profile Tab → Professional Development Channel → My Learning Connection.
- More information is available on the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA website.
Further information about education records and the process of obtaining access to records may be obtained in any of the offices listed in this document or from the office of registration and records, Cass Hall.