Furman University creates and maintains a considerable amount of information pertaining directly to each student enrolled. Almost all of this information is contained in records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal statute passed into law in 1974 that provides the basis for dealing with student records at post-secondary educational institutions. FERPA regulations ensure a minimum standard for the access to, the use of, and the release of information from these education records. Concerns about Furman's compliance with these regulations should be addressed to the University Registrar or directly with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO).
Furman strives to provide quick and easy-to-use access for students to review all of the information contained in their own records, while protecting the release of these same records for unauthorized or inappropriate purposes. Be certain, our commitment to ensure that student records created at the university are maintained with the utmost accuracy and integrity is resolute. Furman University complies strictly with FERPA and all other relevant provisions in both United States and South Carolina law regarding the confidentiality of student records. We welcome you to click the appropriate link on the left to find out more about Furman's student information release policy.
Students have the right to inspect their records and to challenge anything in them that they perceive to be inaccurate or misleading. The university must provide reasonable accommodations to accomplish these tasks. The office which creates and maintains the record in question is responsible for determining what is reasonable.
Furman's student information release policy also stipulates that the university must protect all information in a student's education record from being disclosed to anyone but the student, without the student's written consent. Legal exceptions to this specific prohibition include, but are not limited to:
- information released to a school official with a legitimate educational interest,
- disclosures connected to financial aid awards to determine eligibility and/or to enforce the terms and conditions of aid received,
information released to another higher education institution where a student seeks or intends to enroll,
- compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena or court order,
data supplied to fulfill federal or state mandated enrollment reporting requirements,
- notifications to parents or guardians of students found in violation of federal, state or local law or any university policy related to the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances,
- provisions for public information,
- specific needs to address a health or safety emergency, and/or
the release of selected information to the parents or guardians of financially dependent students.
Take a look at the rights notification all new students are asked to review
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Furman understands that you likely play an important role in your son or daughter's education. It is also important to know that rights pertaining to the release of student information are held by the student and no one else. Accordingly, during orientation when we first inform students about our information release policy, we ask them whether it meets with their approval to share selected academic information beyond public information from their records, such as individual course grades and other course-related evaluations, grade point average, and academic status, with you. We also designate billing and financial aid details as an area that we would discuss with you if the student permits.
Be aware though, that if your son or daughter did not allow for the release of information to you Furman may still choose to share some of the protected items. In order to do so, we must be provided appropriate documentation showing that he or she was financially dependent upon you during the most recent tax year. Finally, any information shared with one parent (excluding financial information) can be disclosed to both unless the student specifically directs the university otherwise. Information routing instructions should be forwarded to Enrollment Services.
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Faculty and Staff
Almost every person acting on behalf of Furman University interacts with students and their records each day. It is absolutely vital that we all understand our responsibilities in regard to being good stewards of the wealth of information that we collect, create, maintain, distribute, and use to assist each student in pursuing their education here at Furman.
What is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act?
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal statute passed into law in 1974 that provides the basis for dealing with student information at post-secondary educational institutions. Our compliance with FERPA regulations ensure a minimum standard for the access to, the use of, and the release of information from education records. Please be aware however, many records we maintain about students, such as medical and disciplinary records, are subject to further protection through other federal (HIPPA, GLB) and state legislation (Public Record Laws, Freedom of Information Acts).
Why is FERPA important to Furman?
Almost all information maintained about our students is contained in education records. Failure to strictly comply with FERPA regulations is a violation of federal law. It would ostracize Furman from the rest of the higher education community, damage our reputation, and could ultimately jeopardize any monies we receive either directly or indirectly from the federal government, including student financial aid. At this time, the student information release policy at Furman complies with all provisions of the Act and its subsequent regulations.
Who has student information release rights?
Student information release rights begin the moment a person enrolls at Furman and extend until the day they die. For our purposes, we interpret "enroll" as the time at which a person first registers for a course. Student information release rights are extended to all students regardless of age. As the title implies, the student, and that student alone, is the only person with release rights to his or her records.
What are these rights?
Students have the right to inspect their records and to challenge anything in them that they perceive to be inaccurate or misleading. The university must provide reasonable accommodations to accomplish these tasks. The office or person who creates and maintains the record in question is identified as the records' custodian and is responsible for determining what is reasonable.
FERPA regulations also stipulate that Furman must protect all information in a student’s education records from being disclosed to anyone but the student... without the student’s written consent.
Are there any exceptions?
Of course there are exceptions, but the only lawful exceptions you are likely to encounter include:
- School officials with a legitimate educational interest may review a student’s records without the student’s consent if they need to consult the records to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
- School officials may release personally identifiable information from the education record in an effort to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena or other court order after first notifying the student.
- School officials may release any and all pertinent information to address an immediate threat to the health or safety of the student or others.
What is public information?
Public information is information that can be released to a third party without the expressed written consent of the student. A student can, if they choose, inform us in writing that this type of information should not be released.
Public information at Furman includes:
- student name,
- names of parents or spouse,
- local address and telephone number,
- home address and telephone number,
- e‐mail address,
- date and place of birth,
- field of study,
- class year,
- participation in officially recognized activities or sports,
- height and weight of members of athletic teams,
- dates of attendance,
- most recent educational institution attended,
- any degree, honors, or awards received,
- identification photograph, and
- enrollment status (full‐time, part‐time, undergraduate, graduate)
Students may make a written request to withhold the release of public information to the Registrar's Office or Student Life. Absolutely no information can be released about students who make this type of request without their written consent. The request must be renewed annually; the student can rescind their request with similar written notice.
Are we required to release public information?
Furman University allows public information to be released if the student does not object, but we are not legally bound to disclose any information of this type. Furman University allows public information to be released if the student does not object, but we are not legally bound to disclose any information of this type. Please err on the side of safety. If you are at all uncomfortable with a request for information do not provide it; questions about what you can or cannot disclose within the parameters of public information should be directed to Academic Records. If you are at all uncomfortable with a request for information do not provide it; questions about what you can or cannot disclose within the parameters of public information should be directed to Enrollment Services
What about the parents?
Again, student information release rights are held by the student and no one else. Furman can and chooses, but is in no way obligated, to share selected information about a student... beyond what is considered public information... with their parents. In order to comply with FERPA regulations however, one of the following statements must be true:
- we have written permission from the student, or
- the parents can provide proof that the student is financially dependent on them.
As we inform incoming students of their student information release rights, we ask them to give Furman permission to share information we deem appropriate, such as course grades and financial information, with their parents. If a student refuses to grant us permission to do so, we will avail ourselves of any information that proves financial dependency. Finally, any information shared with one parent can be disclosed to both unless you are notified by the university to the contrary. Please notify Enrollment Services immediately if you are unsure of a family situation which may impact the release of information.
Can we share information over the telephone or by email?
The telephone is a less than perfect way to share student information. Sometimes though, it is the only viable alternative. Take steps to positively identify the caller before you release personally identifiable information of any type. Whenever possible, put yourself in a position to confirm information that has already been accessed rather than provide for its outright release. Above all, use your professional judgment; we want to limit the amount of frustration experienced by our legitimate callers while we ensure that our students' rights are not violated.
Most forms of e-mail suffer from the same concerns we have about releasing information via the telephone... we don’t really know who is on the other side of the communication. Again, take steps to positively identify the recipient before releasing any type of information.
As you have surely guessed by now, the implementation of our student information release policy can become quite complicated. This brief review should give you enough wisdom to function effectively on a routine basis, but is by no means comprehensive. More details about handling student information, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and Furman's attempts to comply with its provisions are available from the Registrar's Office. You can contact us via telephone at (864) 294-2030, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by our offices in the Administration Building, Room 4. Please ask questions when they arise and remember... better safe than sorry.
Now, apply your knowledge with a student information release quiz!
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