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About Virginia Western :: College Policies

I-33: Privacy of Education Records

Policy Number: I-33
Last Reviewed: February 13, 2019
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs

A signed copy of this policy is available in the President's Office.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley amendment, is a federal law that was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of students and their educational records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of educational information. The Act provides for the right of eligible students to:

  • Inspect and review their educational records. Additional information can be found in the policy regarding Student Permanent Records.
  • Request an amendment to records that are believed to be inaccurate. Additional information can be found in the policy regarding Student Permanent Records.
  • Require Virginia Western to obtain written consent prior to disclosure of personally identifiable information, except those items noted in herein.
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with FERPA.

“Educational information” is defined as any record maintained by an educational institution, including files, documents, and materials of any type which contain information directly related to students, and which allows a student to be identified. “Educational information” does not include:

  • "Sole possession" records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel;
  • Law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for the purposes of law enforcement;
  • Records related to individuals who are employed by Virginia Western;
  • Records related to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional;
  • Records of the institution which only contain information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at Virginia Western (i.e., alumni records).

Students who have applied, but not attended Virginia Western, and deceased students are not protected under FERPA guidelines.

Virginia Western may disclose information from a student’s educational record without consent under certain conditions specified in the FERPA regulations at 34 CFR ξ 99.31:

  1. To School officials with a legitimate educational interest.
  2. To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll.
  3. To government officials in connection with the audit and evaluation of federal and state-supported education programs.
  4. To persons or organizations in connection with financial aid.
  5. To a person or organizations conducting research, studies or data collection on behalf of the College for the development of test, administration of financial aid, or the improvement of instruction.
  6. To accrediting organizations.
  7. To a parent or legal guardian of the student, provided the parent or legal guardian has demonstrated that the student is a dependent for tax purposes.
  8. In order to comply with a judicial order or subpoena provided the College makes a reasonable effort to inform the student in advance so that the student may take protective action, expect when the College is legally required to not disclose the existence of a subpoena.
  9. To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency.
  10. To the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense concerning the final results of a disciplinary hearing with respect to the alleged crime;
  11. To any third party the final results of a disciplinary proceeding related to a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense if the student who is the alleged perpetrator is found to have violated College rules or policies.
  12. To parents of a student under age 21 when the student has violated College rules or criminal laws concerning alcohol or drugs.
  13. In response to an ex parte order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism.

All officials shall document when information is disclosed.

33.1 Parents' Rights Under FERPA

Parents lose rights under FERPA when their child turns 18 years of age or starts attending classes in any postsecondary institution, whichever happens first. Under 20 USC 1232g(d), all rights of parents, including the right to inspect educational records and to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information transfers to the student at the earlier of: 1)the attainment of age 18, or 2) attendance at an institution of postsecondary education.

Parents of a financially dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), may obtain their child’s records after submitting proof of the student’s dependency via the most recent federal tax form. Requested information will not be released prior to the submission of this documentation.

Students can authorize the release of their education information to a parent, spouse, or other third party by completing an Information Release Form (PDF).

33.2 Spouses' Rights Under FERPA

Under FERPA, a student’s spouse is considered an “unrelated third party” and, therefore, has no rights under the Act. Virginia Western cannot disclose a student’s educational information to a spouse without consent, even if the spouse is supporting the student.

Students can authorize the release of their education information to a parent, spouse, or other third party by completing an Information Release Form (PDF).

33.3 Release of Directory Information

As provided by FERPA, Virginia Western Community College designates the following categories of student information as "Limited Use Directory Information" and may disclose the following without the student's prior consent at the College's discretion:

  • Student's Name
  • Degree, honors, and awards received

33.4 Prohibited Disclosures

Per VCCS Policy 6.2.7.1 Colleges shall not disclose the address, telephone number or email address of a student as directory information or pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request without the prior written consent of the student. Colleges shall establish policies that allow students to opt-in to the disclosure of such information without prior written consent.

A student may formally request that Virginia Western not release directory information on their behalf by submitting a Student Request for Non-Disclosure of Records (PDF) to the Records Office or by changing the privacy settings in the Student Center of their MyVWCC account. Once this request has been made, every reasonable effort will be made to safeguard the confidentiality of directory information.

Virginia Western staff will not respond to phone calls from potential employers to verify enrollment for students who have submitted an official request of non-disclosure without the student’s written authorization.

33.5 Solomon Amendment

Effective October 23, 1998, all Colleges and Universities are required to comply with the final regulations of the Solomon Amendment. Failure to comply may result in the loss of federal funding including various forms of federal student aid. The purpose of this document is to explain the procedures at Virginia Western Community College regarding compliance with the Solomon Amendment.

The Solomon Amendment supersedes FERPA. Solomon is based on the definition of "Student Recruitment Information."

Definition - Student Recruitment Information

  1. Name
  2. Address (local, permanent)
  3. Telephone number (local, permanent)
  4. Age
  5. Major
  6. Class Level (e.g. First-Year, Sophomore)
  7. Degree awarded

  • Information released is limited to the current semester or the previous semester. If the request is received between semesters, the requestor must specify previous semester or upcoming semester.
  • Students must be enrolled.
  • If a student requests that their directory information be withheld under FERPA, this protection will be honored under Solomon; the student's records will not be released.
  • Sub-population definition under Solomon is limited to the data elements included in the definition of "Student Recruitment Information." Sub-population definitions according to veteran status, academic performance, ethnicity, nationality, and gender are specifically excluded under Solomon.

Information released is limited to military recruiting purposes only. The request for information must be in writing on letterhead that clearly identifies the military recruiting organization. Military recruiters must be from one of the following military organizations:

  • Air Force
  • Air Force Reserve
  • Air Force National Guard
  • Army
  • Army National Guard
  • Army Reserve
  • Coast Guard
  • Coast Guard Reserve
  • Navy
  • Navy Reserve
  • Marine Corps
  • Marine Corps Reserve

Requesting Recruitment Information
Military Recruiters are to submit their Solomon requests to: Office of the Registrar, 3094 Colonial Ave, Roanoke, VA 24015.

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