Student Information Release Glossary

Definitions of Important Terminology

Public Information – Information that is deemed acceptable to release to a third party without the direct written consent of the student. A subset of public information (name, local address and telephone number, home address, and class year) is published annually in the university directory. If you determine it is in the student's best interest, public information can be released to a third party unless the student specifically informs Furman to withhold the release of this information.

At Furman, public information 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, height and weight of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, most recent educational institution attended, any degree or awards received, and identification photograph.

Education Records - Records directly related to a student and maintained by Furman or by a party acting for Furman. Educational records include any personally identifiable student-related information in any medium, including but not limited to, handwriting, print, tapes, film, e-mail, microfilm, and microfiche.

Examples of an Education Record:
  • Admissions information for students who are accepted and enrolled,
  • Advising and registration materials, such as course schedules or drop-add requests,
  • Biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, and identification photographs,
  • Coursework including papers and exams, e-mail, or any type of recorded communications that are part of the academic process,
  • Data related to participation in student activities, such as student government, intercollegiate athletics, intramurals, or student clubs,
  • Disciplinary records,
  • Grades, test scores, evaluations, courses taken, academic specialization and activities, and official communications regarding a student’s status,
  • Identification cards or numbers,
  • Internship program records,
  • Student account and financial aid records.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - 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. Furman’s compliance with FERPA regulations ensures a minimum standard for the access to, the use of, and the release of information from education records.

Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) - The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing and administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education (K-12, post-secondary). Complaints addressing an institution’s compliance with the law and its regulations can be directed to this entity.

Financially Dependent Students – Students who are legally financially dependent on their parents or guardians for tax purposes. These are students who receive more than half of their support from their parent(s) or guardian(s).

The standards for financial dependency for student information release purposes and financial aid purposes are much different. The standard for student information release purposes hinges solely on a review of the parents’ or guardians’ most recent federal tax return. Students are much more apt to be identified as independent under these rules than they are in reference to financial aid regulations.

Legitimate Educational Interest – School officials have a legitimate educational interest in accessing and/or reviewing education records without the student’s written consent if he or she needs to review the record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities. Legitimate educational interest can be broadly defined, but the review of the education record must ultimately be in the best interest of the student. In many situations, this is determined on a case-by-case basis within the limitations of a "need to know."

School Official – A school official is any person acting on behalf of the institution either as an employee or in any other capacity. School officials may include trustees, faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and other persons, including student employees, agents, or third party contractors.



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