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Family Educational Rights And Privacy Act (FERPA)

Annual Notice 2021-22

In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as amended, Fairfield University provides the following notice to students regarding certain rights with respect to their educational records. FERPA rights apply to students "in attendance" (regardless of age) and former students. For purposes of Fairfield University's FERPA policy, a student is considered "in attendance" the day the student first attends a class at Fairfield University. That is the day that the FERPA rights described in this policy go into effect for the student.

The rights afforded to students with respect to their education records under FERPA are:

1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed. While students have the right to inspect and review their academic records and, in general, have the right to transcripts of their academic records, the University reserves the right to refuse to provide transcripts of academic records for reasons such as nonpayment of financial obligations.

2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask the University to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write to the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her 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 consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

a. One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (including but not limited to, an attorney, auditor, collection agent, or a provider of e-mail, network or other technological services (e.g., Google/Gmail); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

b. FERPA does make exceptions for disseminating information to students' parents or legal guardians, including if the student is under 21 years old and the disclosure concerns the student's violation of University policy concerning the possession or use of alcohol or a controlled substance.

c. FERPA permits the non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records in connection with a health or safety emergency.

d. FERPA permits the non-consensual disclosure of education records in compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena or court order.

e. Another exception that permits disclosure without consent is the disclosure of directory information, which the law and Fairfield University define to include the following: a student's name, home address including e-mail address, telephone number, date and place of birth, visual image (photographs); dates of attendance, major and minor, enrollment status, class year, degrees/awards received, other institutions attended, and weight and height information for members of athletic teams.

This exception related to directory information is subject to the right of the student to object to the designation of any or all of the types of information listed above as directory information in his or her case, by giving notice to the University Registrar’s Office on or before September 15 of any year. If such an objection is not received, Fairfield University will release directory information when appropriate.

FERPA does not require that directory information be released, and all determinations will be made at the sole discretion of the institution. It is the policy of Fairfield University not to provide student lists to third parties.

f. Another exception that permits disclosure without written consent is disclosure to another school where the student seeks to enroll, intends to enroll, or is already enrolled (if related to enrollment or transfer). No disclosure of academic progress will be made to those outside the institution, including parents, without the written consent of the student. 

4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the 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 20202-4605

Questions regarding FERPA and the procedures followed by Fairfield University to comply with FERPA may be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students. Information about FERPA can be found online at www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco.

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