CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT RECORDS
Educational institutions are required to annually notify enrolled students of their rights under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended. This website fulfills this obligation and serves as the annual FERPA notification to students at Western New England University.
FERPA is designed to protect the privacy of students by limiting third party access to student educational records. This policy:
- permits students to inspect their educational records
- limits the disclosure of information from educational records; and
- provides students with the opportunity to seek correction of their educational records when appropriate.
- Student is defined as one who has attended or is attending Western New England University and whose records are in the files of the University.
- Educational records include those records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained as official files by the University. The following are not educational records:
- records about students made by professors or administrators for their own use and not shown to others;
- campus police records maintained solely for law enforcement purposes and kept separate from educational records;
- employment records, except where a currently enrolled student is employed as a result of her/her status as a student;
- records of a physician, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional made or used only for treatment purposes and available only to persons providing treatment;
- records that contain only information relating to a person’s activities after that person is no longer a student at the University.
- Directory information is limited to name, addresses, telephone number, email address, photographs, major field of study, participation in recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards, activities, and other institutions recently attended.
- Record means any information or data recorded in any medium, including but not limited to handwritten or printed materials, tapes, computerized information, or film.
Student Right of Access
Students may inspect and review their educational records in accordance with the procedure outlined here. The University reserves the right to deny students access to the following records:
- Financial statements of the student’s parents;
- Letters of recommendation received prior to January 1, 1975; and
- Records that are excluded from the FERPA definition for educational records (defined above)
Recommendations and References
A student may waive her/his right of access to confidential recommendations in three areas: admission to the University; job placement; and receipt of honors and awards. The University will not require such waivers as a condition for admission or receipt of any service of benefit normally provided to students.
Types and Locations of Educational References
- Academic Records (Enrollment Services): This file includes a student’s official transcript, admission application and supporting credentials, and records of actions affecting academic status (e.g., petitions and corrections of academic records). Transcripts are maintained permanently.
- Student Progress File (Dean of Students Office): This file includes correspondence, notations of disciplinary actions, housing records, and student activity records.
- Financial Aid and Student Loans (Enrollment Services): This file contains financial aid applications, needs analysis statements, correspondence, and awards made.
- Student Placement Records (Career Development Center): This file contains recommendations, unofficial copies of academic records, and correspondence.
- Health Records (Health Services or Counseling Services)
Procedure for Access to Records
Requests for access specifying the records to be inspected should be made in writing to the office maintaining the file. The University will comply with the request within a reasonable time, at most within 45 days. In the usual case, arrangements will be made for the student to read her/his records in the presence of a staff member.
Request for Copies of Records
A student may also obtain copies of their records by paying reproduction costs of $.25 per page. Requests for copies should be made in writing to the office maintaining the file. The University will comply with the request within a reasonable time, at most within 45 days. The University will not provide copies of transcripts from other schools. (This does not include Student Code of Conduct Files).
Policy on Release of Information
The University will disclose information from a student’s educational records only with the written consent of the student, except:
- To University officials who are legitimate educational interests in the records;
- A University official is any of the following: (A) a person employed by the University in any capacity; (B) a person serving on the board of trustees; (C) a student serving on an official University committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or (D) a volunteer or third-party contractor who performs an institutional service or function on behalf of the University for which the University might otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the University with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records.
- A University official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is performing an authorized task, activity, or determination on behalf of the University and for which the information contained in the educational record is necessary or appropriate. Tasks, activities, or determinations include those relating to a student’s education, the discipline of a student, and the mission of the University.
- To officials of another school in which a student seeks enrollment; upon their written request, the student will be provided with a copy of the records that have been transferred;
- To federal, state, and local governmental authorities, in connection with publicly supported education programs, or in connection with the enforcement of, or compliance with, legal requirements;
- In connection with a student’s request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid or to enforce the terms of the aid;
- To parents of an eligible student who claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
- To accrediting organizations for the purpose of carrying out their functions;
- To state and local officials to whom such information is specifically required to be reported pursuant to state law adopted prior to November 19, 1974;
- To appropriate parties in connection with an emergency, where knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals; and
- In response to a court order or subpoena; the University will make reasonable efforts to notify the student before complying with a court order.
Record of Requests for Disclosure
The University will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosures of information from a student’s educational record. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request, any additional party to whom it may be disclosed, and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information.
The University may disclose directory information without the student’s prior consent, unless notified at the beginning of the semester. An Information Waiver Form is available in Enrollment Services for that purpose.
Correction of Educational Records
Students may ask to have records that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights corrected. Students do not have the right to use this process to challenge substantive judgments (e.g., a grade assignment or disciplinary action) that are correctly recorded. The procedures for the correction of records is as follows:
- Students who believe that the information contained in their educational record is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights may submit a written request to Enrollment Services specifying the document(s) being challenged and the basis for the complaint. The request will be sent to the responsible person at the origin of the record in question. Within a reasonable period of time of receipt of the request, the University will decide whether to amend the records in accordance with the request. If the decision to amend is refused, the student will be notified and advised of her/his right to an appeal hearing.
- Upon a request by a student, the University will provide an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the student’s record. A request for a hearing should be submitted in writing to Enrollment Services within a reasonable time of receipt of the request, the student will be notified in writing of the date, place, and time of the hearing. A University official who does not have a direct interest in the outcome will conduct the hearing. The student will have a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised. A member of the University community or an attorney (at the student’s expense) may assist the student. The University official conducting the hearing will make a recommendation to Enrollment Services after consideration of all relevant information.
- Within a reasonable period of time following the conclusion of the hearing, the University will notify the student in writing of its decision. The decision will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing and will include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision. If the University decides that the information on the student’s record is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of the student’s privacy rights, the University will amend the records accordingly.
- If the University decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of the student’s privacy rights, the University will inform the student of the right to place in her/his record a statement commenting on the information and/or explaining the reasons for her/his disagreement with the University. Any such explanation will be kept as part of the student’s record as long as the contested portion is kept and will be disclosed whenever the contested portion of the record is disclosed.
Requests to Restrict Directory Information
While attending Western New England University, students may request to restrict the release of their Directory Information except to university officials with a legitimate educational interest, as outlined above. In order to restrict all information, a signed and dated request must be made in writing to the Western New England University, University Registrar, 1215 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, MA 01119. A form is also available from the University Registrar in Enrollment Services. Should the student graduate or otherwise leave the University, this restriction will remain in place until the student submits a written request to remove it.
Note: Once a student’s record has been made confidential, no information can be shared about the individual without the student’s written consent. In such a case, problems may occur thereafter when potential employers or other parties make inquiries about the student.
Questions about the University’s policies and practices or about specific education records should be addressed to:
Western New England University
1215 Wilbraham Rd.
Springfield, MA 01119-2684