Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as amended, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA sets forth privacy requirements regarding student records and governs the release of these records (known as education records) maintained by an educational institution, as well as access to these records.
It is the policy of Liberty University, in accordance with FERPA and applicable state law, to withhold personally identifiable information contained in its students’ educational records unless the student has consented to disclosure through Liberty’s FERPA Personal Identification Number (PIN) system. However, there are exceptions to this general rule provided by state law and FERPA. In certain circumstances, FERPA authorizes public disclosure of directory information without student consent while protecting other private information, such as grades, class schedules, the student’s account, and financial aid awards from release without express consent from the student.
Using Liberty’s FERPA PIN system, the student may grant permission to release some or all private information to the student’s designee. The FERPA PIN system can be accessed through the student’s ASIST account. Go to the General Information tab on ASIST, and then select the FERPA Personal Identification Number menu option. Please read the standards below to understand the role of Liberty University and the student.
Liberty abides by the FERPA regulations and guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Education, for further information regarding to this act please refer to the Department’s official page.
Rights under FERPA at Liberty University
FERPA affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. An “eligible student” under FERPA is one who attends a postsecondary institution, regardless of their age. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days after the day Liberty University receives a request for access.
A student should submit to the registrar’s office (in person or through the student’s Liberty University email account to email@example.com) a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to access. The school official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected or may email the requested documentation to the student. If the records are not maintained by and available to the registrar, that registrar’s office will advise the student of the correct school official to whom the request should be addressed.
2. The right to request an amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
A student who wishes to ask Liberty University to amend a record should write or email the Registrar’s Office, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants to be changed and specify why it should be changed. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the registrar’s office will notify the student via the student’s email address of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
3. The right to provide written consent before Liberty University discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records to someone other than the student, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
Liberty University discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to its school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official typically includes a person employed by Liberty University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including its law enforcement personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; and 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 Liberty University 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 PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent, data service provider, or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official typically has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional or contractual responsibilities for Liberty University. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(1))
As is permissible under FERPA, upon request by another school to which a student is transferring, Liberty University
See the list below of the other disclosures that Liberty University may make without student consent.
- To authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local educational authorities, such as a state postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the University’s state-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, in connection with an audit or evaluation of federal – or state – supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. (34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
- In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility, the amount, or the conditions of the aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(4))
- To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, Liberty University, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(6))
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(7))
- To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for US federal tax purposes. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(8))
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(9))
- In connection with a lawsuit between the student and Liberty University. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(9))
- To appropriate parties in connection with a health or safety emergency, as necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others. (34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(10) and 99.36)
- Information Liberty University has designated as “directory information” under 99.37. (34 CFR § 99.31(a)(11)), except as otherwise protected by applicable state law (Virginia Code § 23.1-405(C)).
- Information concerning sex offenders provided to Liberty University under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. (34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(16))
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense. The disclosure may only include the final results (name of student alleged to be responsible, basic nature of the violation alleged, and a description of any sanction imposed, including its duration), regardless of the finding. (34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(13))
- To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding against a student whom Liberty University has determined violated its Sexual Misconduct Policy in connection with alleged acts that, if proven, also constitute a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense. The disclosure may only include the final results (name of student found responsible , basic nature of the violation found to have been committed, and a description of any sanction imposed, including its duration). (34 CFR §§ 99.31(a)(14) and 99.39)
- To parents of a student under the age of 21 regarding the student’s violation of any law or rule governing the use or possession of alcohol following Liberty University’s determination that the student committed a disciplinary violation. (34 CFR §99.31(a)(15))
4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Liberty University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Aside from FERPA’s general requirement that Liberty University obtain written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from students’ education records, certain categories of information in records are disclosable without consent. So long as it conforms with protections in state law, Liberty University may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent, unless the student has advised Liberty University to the contrary in accordance with Liberty University procedures. FERPA allows schools to disclose, without consent, directory information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, image, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. Examples include:
- A playbill, showing the student’s role in a drama production
- The annual yearbook
- Honor roll or other recognition lists
- Graduation programs
- Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing the weight and height of team members
Students who do not want Liberty University to disclose any or all the types of information designated below as directory information from their education records without prior written consent must notify Liberty University of this request using their Liberty email account to firstname.lastname@example.org. Liberty University has designated the following information regarding eligible students as directory information:
- Telephone listings*
- Email addresses*
- Images (e.g., photograph, video)
- Date and place of birth
- Enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate/graduate, full-time/part-time, residential/online program)
- Academic programs and major fields of study
- Dates of attendance
- Anticipated graduation date
- Dates of admission
- Class level (e.g., sophomore, senior)
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- The most recent educational agency or institution attended
- Residency/match information (LUCOM only)
*Denotes Directory Information that may only be disclosed in accordance with Virginia Code § 23.1-405(C).
Requesting Access to Document from Education Records at Liberty University
Protection under FERPA affords a student the right to view his or her educational records at Liberty University. The process to do so is as follows:
- A student may request to view an item from his or her education records in three different ways:
- by emailing the request from his or her Liberty email account to email@example.com
- by mailing a written request to the registrar’s office with his or her signature
- by coming to the registrar’s office window and filling out a File Request form
- Liberty will normally supply the requested document(s) to the student within two business days, but some requests may take up to 45 days. A copy of the document will normally be provided to the student in the same fashion as it was requested (e.g., email, mail or pick up).
- There are certain items in which Liberty will not supply students with a copy absent a special exception granted by the Registrar, such as financial records of their parents, confidential letters of recommendation transcripts from other institutions. It is expected that if a student needs a copy of a transcript from another institution they will request it from the institution itself. Treatment records protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be requested from the treatment provider pursuant to that federal law and not FERPA.
- An email request from an address other than a student’s Liberty account will be returned unfulfilled. Requests must come from a Liberty account.
- Requests need to be specific as to the document(s) the student would like to view when making a request.
- While an individual who knows a student’s FERPA PIN may remotely view FERPA protected records within a student’s file, copies of documents will not be released to anyone other than the student.
Updated October 9, 2023