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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Student Privacy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational records. 

The act affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review their education record within 45 days of the day the college receives a request for access.
  2. The right to request the amendment of that part of a student's education record that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading.
  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.
  4. 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.
  • FERPA rights for Columbia College students begin at the time of enrollment in their first class.
  • FERPA protects all students who currently are enrolled or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or parental dependency status.
  • FERPA does not apply to deceased students or persons who have applied but have not attended.

Disclosure of Education Records

Columbia College may disclose non-directory information from a student’s education record only with the written consent of the student, or under one of the following exceptions allowed under FERPA:

  • To school officials with legitimate educational interest (as defined by institution within FERPA guidelines).

    A school official is defined as a person employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic or support staff position (including law enforcement unit and health staff); a person or company with whom the college has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent, National Student Clearinghouse); 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.

  • To schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer.
  • To federal, state and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs.
  • 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 for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
  • To organizations conducting studies of or on behalf of educational institutions in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs: or (c) improve instruction.
  • To accrediting agencies to carry out their accrediting functions.
  • To parents of dependent students.
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
  • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency.
  • To the student.
  • Results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.
  • To the parents of a student regarding the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21.

Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent.

First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.

Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.

In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Procedure to Inspect or Correct Education Records

Procedure to Inspect Education Records

Students should submit to the Registrar or Executive Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The student will be notified of a time and place where the records may be inspected.

Access will be provided within 45 days from the date the initial request is received by the College. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the records which relate to him/her.

Correction of Educational Records

A student may challenge the content of his or her academic record when the student believes the record to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate. The student should write to the Registrar: clearly identify the part of the record he/she wants changed and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.

If Columbia College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College 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. 


For the purpose of this policy statement, Columbia College has used the following definition of terms.

  1. Student

    Any person who attends or has attended Columbia College.

  2. Education records

    Any record in handwritten, print, tape, film, electronic, photo, or other medium, maintained by the college or an agent of the college, from which a student can be personally identified, with the exception of the following:

  1. Sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel.
  2. Law enforcement or campus security records which are kept solely for law enforcement purposes.
  3. Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless employment is contingent upon school attendance, such as Federal Work-Study).
  4. Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment.
  5. Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution. (i.e., alumni records).

Release of Directory Information

Under the provisions of the Act, Columbia College is allowed to disclose directory information without consent. Directory information is described as: name, address, telephone number, email address, dates of attendance (dates enrolled, not dates the student was present in class), enrollment status, class level, previous institutions attended, major field of study, awards, honors (including dean's list), degree(s) conferred (including dates), past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors (height and weight of athletes), picture, and date and place of birth. "Directory Information" is released at the discretion of the institution.

However, students who do not wish directory information to be released may prevent such release by completing and signing a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information   form. If at any time you would like to remove this restriction, you may complete the Remove Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information form

IMPORTANT: Please consider very carefully the consequences of restricting the disclosure of your directory information. The college will not be able to confirm your existence to any person or organization outside of Columbia College who may be requesting information to include verifying your enrollment or degree. Our response to the requestor will be “I have no information on this individual.” Regardless of the effect upon you, Columbia College assumes no liability for honoring your request that such information be withheld.

You may also complete and return the Third Party Release form to grant access of non-directory information, such as your tuition charges or account balance to parents or other individuals. 

To submit one of these forms, sign the completed form and turn it in at your learning venue or send to:

Office of the Registrar
Columbia College
1001 Rogers Street
Columbia, MO 65216
Fax: (573) 875-7436

or scan and email to

Additional FERPA Information

Right to Refuse Access

Transcripts and diplomas  are withheld from students who have not settled their financial obligations to the college.

Columbia College FERPA Contacts:

Jennifer Thorpe, Registrar, (573) 875-7668,

Stephanie DeLaney, Associate Registrar, (573) 875-7507,


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