Family Educational Rights and Privacy Policy (FERPA)


Columbia College is committed to the privacy of the information of its students.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, (the “Act” or “FERPA”), is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education and requires, in part, (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students must be made available. Columbia College shall maintain the confidentiality of student education records in accordance with the provisions of the Act and shall accord all the rights under the Act to students who are declared independent and who are or have been in attendance at the College.


This policy applies to the handling of student information covered by this policy.


FERPA requires the College to advise students of their rights under the Act. Students are hereby advised that these rights include the right:

  • To inspect and review information contained in their educational records;
  • To seek amendment to those records that students consider to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights;
  • To have a hearing if the request to amend the record is denied and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if the decision of the hearing panel is unacceptable; The Registrar at Columbia College has been assigned to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personal, academic, and financial files and academic cooperative education and placement records;
  • 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; and
  • To file a complaint concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. Such complaints are to be directed to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920

Education Records: Definition

For purposes of this policy "education records" are defined as records directly related to a student that are maintained by the College or by a party acting on its behalf. Education records do not include the following:

  • Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel, and ancillary education personnel that are not in the sole possession of the creator, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a substitute who may temporarily perform the duties of the creator;
  • Records of a law enforcement unit of the College created by that unit for a law enforcement purpose that are maintained by the unit separate from education records, and are maintained for law enforcement purposes;
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the College and are made and maintained in the normal course of business and relate exclusively to those individuals in their capacity as employees and are not available for another purpose (records of persons who are employed solely as a consequence of college attendance, e.g., teaching/graduate assistants or work-study students, however, are education records);
  • Records created and maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity, such as student health records to be used solely in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and not disclosed to anyone other than for treatment purposes, provided that records may be disclosed to physicians or professionals of the student's choice. Treatment in this context, however, does not include remedial education activities or other activities which are part of the program of instruction of Columbia College; and
  • Records of an institution which contain only information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student at the institution and are not directly related to the individual's attendance as a student (e.g., accomplishments of alumni).

Procedure to Inspect or Correct Education Records

Procedure to Inspect Education Records

Students should submit to the Registrar or Provost written requests that identify the specific record(s) they wish to inspect. The student will be notified of a time and place where the records may be inspected and a College official may be present when a student is reviewing their education records for the purpose of safeguarding the integrity of the College’s records.

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 Education 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.

Should the College choose not to amend the record after a hearing, the student is allowed to include an explanatory comment along with the record.

Requesting a correction to education records is not the proper avenue for pursuing grade appeals. Please see the College’s policy for grade appeals for specific details and information about the grade appeal process.

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 college 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 twenty-one (21).

The above list does not intend to be exhaustive, although a full list of exceptions may be found at 34 CFR § 99.31.

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 you 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.

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, weight and height of members of athletic teams, 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. Should a student choose to restrict directory information from being released, it is important to know that they are not able to opt-out of the disclosure of their name, identifier, or College email address in a class in which they are enrolled. 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 by 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 campus or send to:

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

Or scan and email to  

Authenticating Student Identity via Phone

Under FERPA, the College is responsible for taking as many precautions as possible to authenticate student identity before giving confidential information out over the phone. For that reason, in order to locate a student’s record in the Colleague computer system, a College representative may ask them for their Student ID Number or Date of Birth. The College representative must then take further steps to authenticate the student’s identity before releasing or verifying other student-specific information. College representatives may never ask for a Social Security Number for this purpose.

In addition to the Student ID Number or Date of Birth, three (3) additional pieces of information from the list below must be confirmed before any student information may be disclosed to the student over the phone. The screens listed can be found in Colleague, which is the official source for student information.

  • STAC: Identify one class taken last session and the grade earned.
  • XAEM: State password recovery email address.
  • IASU: Name a previous institution or high school attended.
  • ADSU: Identify a previous address.
  • BIO: List previous or maiden name.
  • PREL: State the name and relation of the person listed in this screen.
  • SPRO: State what their home campus location is.

If the student is unable to confirm three (3) pieces of information, the call should be forwarded to the Office of the Registrar at 573-875-7526. 

Reporting Instructions for Suspected FERPA Violations 

In the event student information is unintentionally released to a third party, who has no educational right to receive such information, the incident should be reported to the Office of the Registrar. The Office of the Registrar will determine if the release of information is in fact, a violation, or allowable under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This information is to serve as a guide for how to make notification, what information needs to be relayed to determine the extent of the violation, and next steps in the process of reporting.

  1. Notify the Office of the Registrar of the incident. All notifications to the Office of the Registrar should be made the same day of the incident or the first opportunity on the following business day. Attempt should be made to contact either the Registrar or the Associate Registrar directly, as the nature of a FERPA violation is serious and should be escalated. Notification should include detailed information including, but not limited to: (1) date of violation, (2) number of students affected, (3) list of information released, (4) how the incident occurred, and (5) where it occurred and through what media.
  2. Office of the Registrar determines the extent of the violation and the plan of action needed to properly notify students and other departments as needed. Notification to students affected will be made by the Office of the Registrar within forty-eight (48) hours of knowledge that a violation may have occurred. Depending on the extent of the violation, notification to other departments may include, but not be limited to the following: Public Relations, Technology Services, Financial Aid, Administrative Council, and the President of Columbia College. Those departmental notifications, if warranted, will be made by the Office of the Registrar, immediately upon confirming that a reportable incident occurred.
  3. The student record in Colleague will be flagged in XMPC with a code of "FERPA" and the proper comment will be added so that staff accessing this record can see that a FERPA violation has occurred and the nature of the violation. The Office of the Registrar will also maintain an incident file on every confirmed FERPA violation, which will include all details of the incident (e.g., students affected, method and date of student notification, internal parties notified, corrective action taken, etc.).
  4. Depending on the severity of the incident, the Office of the Registrar will provide the proper training needed to avoid a reoccurrence of the incident or coordinate corrective action regarding broken processes or policies that allowed the violation to occur.

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:

Stephanie Whitener, Registrar, (573) 875-7721,

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

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