Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Annual Notice

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Policies and Procedures

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their “education records.” Note: The term “education records” as used in this Notice is defined as in FERPA and subject to all exceptions and limitations stated therein. These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The College 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 College official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the College to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College will notify the student in writing 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 file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College 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 20202-5901
  4. The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent in certain situations. For a complete copy of FERPA listing all such exceptions, please request this from the Registrar’s Office. The following is a description of some of those exceptions:

The College discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including campus safety personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); 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 responsibilities for the College. Upon request, the College also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

The College may in its discretion disclose education records without the student’s consent to the parents of a student who is a dependent upon one or both parents for U.S. Federal income tax purposes, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. A form certifying tax dependency/independency is provided to each entering student. The designation made by the entering student will remain in effect for the duration of the student’s time at the College, unless the student notifies the College in writing of a change in tax dependency or unless a parent provides documentation to the contrary. Supporting documentation satisfactory to the College may be required at any time. The College must be notified immediately of any change of a student’s dependency status.

As permitted by FERPA, “directory information” may be disclosed by the College for any purpose at its discretion. Bennington College designates the following categories of student information as public or “Directory Information”:

  • Name
  • Campus address and email
  • Campus telephone number
  • Dates of attendance
  • Class
  • Previous institutions attended
  • Major field of study
  • Awards
  • Honors
  • Degree(s) conferred (including dates)
  • Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  • Date and place of birth
  • Photograph

Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of “Directory Information” in whole or in part by notifying the Registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of classes for each term. Forms for this purpose are available in the Office of the Provost and Dean. The absence of such a prior written request from any student to withhold all or any category of “Directory Information” permits disclosure in the College’s discretion.

Students may have copies made at their expense of their Bennington-generated records with certain exceptions, e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document that exists elsewhere.

Students may not inspect or review the following as provided by FERPA: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment, job placement, or honors, to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the College will permit access only to the part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student. The College is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected. In addition, “education records” do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel that are in the sole possession of the maker thereof and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute, records of campus safety, health records, employment records, or alumni records. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the student’s choosing.

Questions concerning FERPA may be referred to the Office of the Registrar.