Release of Information - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Annual Notification

Mohawk Valley Community College takes the release of information seriously. Only the Director of Records and Registration/ Registrar or designee makes determinations regarding release of information about past and current students.

In order to protect the privacy of students while meeting our obligations, the College will only release limited information to the public or individuals unless the law requires it or the student approves it. The information that the College can release without student written consent is referred to as “directory” information. Unless a student signs a written request to withhold consent to release directory information, that information may be released, or published, at the College’s discretion. Examples of these are the publication of awards, honors received, graduation information.

Below is a summary of the information contained in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended. Each request is treated separately and according to the law. Any questions or requests for student information should be directed to the Office of Records and Registration.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

All requests for student information should be directed to the Office of Records and Registration. Annually the College publishes a statement of the rights specified under the FERPA law as amended. This policy statement constitutes official notice of the following information:

  1. Official educational files containing materials directly related to students, to which the Act gives students the right of access are maintained in the following locations on campus: 
  • Primary Student Files: These records are maintained for degree candidates; some of the records are maintained for other students as well:
    The Office of Records and Registration files contain admission materials, correspondence, transfer recommendations, the official academic record, registration records, change of grades, change of majors, credit evaluations, transcripts, and copies of correspondence. These files are the responsibility of the Director of Records and Registration/Registrar.
  • Supplemental Student Files: Records may be maintained for some students as appropriate by the following:
      1. Academic School– the appropriate Dean
      2. Career and Transfer Office - Director
      3. Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
      4. Library – Director of Libraries and the Learning Center
      5. Student Financial Aid – Director
  1. The Act stipulates that the following persons or agencies may have access to student educational files without their permission:
  • School Officials with a Legitimate Education Interest: A school official is a person employed by Mohawk Valley Community College and/or the State University of New York — SUNY in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of Mohawk Valley Community College who performs an institutional service or function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from educational records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist 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 responsibilities for Mohawk Valley Community College and/or the State University of New York — SUNY.
  • Certain Federal and State agencies (U.S. Department of Education; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Justice; etc.). The FBI, CIA, INS, IRS, etc. with appropriate documentation, subpoena, summons, or as specified in law.
  • Agencies involved with a student’s application for, or receipt of financial aid.
  • Accrediting agencies carrying out their functions.
  • Parents of students who are dependents of their parents for income tax purposes. The College will accept as sufficient evidence, a written statement to this effect along with proof of dependency.
  • Pursuant to judicial orders.
  • The Office of Records and Registration will maintain a record of access to student records by persons or agencies as noted above.   Students have the right to see this access.

C. Persons other than those enumerated in B. above wishing access to student educational records must have the student’s written consent. The authorization must specify the records to be released, to which they are to be released, and be signed by the student.

D. Mohawk Valley Community College is not obligated to release information even if the request comes with signed release. Requests will be considered at the discretion of the College on a case-by-case basis.

E. Official records are kept by the College, as there is a reasonable need for them. After that point, they are destroyed. The Registrar’s record of a student’s academic performance is retained permanently.

F. Each student has the right to inspect and review the information contained in his or her official educational records as listed in A. above subject to limitations as noted below. To do so, students must make a written request on a form available in the Office of Records and Registration. This request will be honored within 45 days after it is reviewed.

Inspection and review include:

      1. An explanation and interpretation of the record.
      2. The right to a copy of the educational record. The charge for an official transcript of the academic record is $10.00; copies of the records are $.10 per page. A copy may be denied:
        • When a “hold” has been placed on the record because of an unsatisfied obligation to the College.
        • For a transcript from another institution. (The transcript is available from the originating institution.)
  • The following educational records are not available for the inspection and review by the student:
      1. Financial information submitted by parents.
      2. Confidential letters and recommendations received prior to January 1, 1975.
      3. Confidential letters and recommendations to which students have voluntarily waived rights of inspection and review.
      4. Education records containing information about more than one student. In such cases, however, students will be informed of that information which pertains to them.

G.If students wish, their right of access to confidential letters of recommendation solicited for transfer, employment, or honors, may be waived. Indicating a yes/no decision on the recommendation form can do this. Since many writers of recommendation letters feel they cannot be as candid as they would like if the students saw their letters, it may be in the students’ best interest to execute the waiver. They may not however, be denied a recommendation on the sole grounds that they have not waived their right of access.

H. Students have a right to challenge the contents of their record.  In general, disputes regarding the contents of files will be handled by informal means. If these means should prove unsatisfactory to the student, the Vice President for Student Affairs may be requested in writing to convene a formal hearing.  The Vice President for Student Affairs will appoint a member of the College faculty who has no direct interest in the outcome of the proceeding to hear the case.  The hearing shall be held within a reasonable time following the request, and the student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised.  The decision shall be rendered in writing by the hearing official within a reasonable period of time after the conclusion of the hearing.

I. The following data relating to students are considered to be directory information, which may be disclosed by the Office of Records and Registration following appropriate procedures.

  1. Name
  2. Preferred name
  3. Address
  4. Telephone number
  5. Date and place of birth
  6. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  7. Weight and height of athletic team members
  8. Dates of attendance
  9. Degrees and awards received
  10. Most recent previous educational institution attended
  11. Email addresses
  12. Program of study
  13. Full-time, part-time status

Students may request that directory information not be disclosed (subject to same exceptions as in B.) This will prevent the Office of Records and Registration from publishing and/or verifying any information that is included in H. as directory information. This includes information published for commencement, honors and awards received. Confidential holds suppress any disclosure, including job references, degree verification and graduation publications. Forms to suppress Directory Information Release are available from the Office of Records and Registration. The hold will not be removed without the written permission of the student.

Residence hall students may submit a Release of Information to the Residence Life Office.  This release will authorize the College to communicate with an identified parent or guardian regarding emergencies.

FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which student education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including the student’s Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without the student’s consent.

First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to a student’s records and PII without the student’s consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to a student’s education records and PII without the student’s consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive a student’s PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.

In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without the student’s consent PII from the student’s education records, and they may track the student’s participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about the student that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.