The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Further details may be found in Cornell Policy 4.5 Access to Student Information. These rights include:
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 Office of the University Registrar 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 at which 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.
2. The right to provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure of personally identifiable information without consent, such as:
- To school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic (including emeritus faculty), research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, service provider, 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 is deemed to have a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the university.
- To officials of another school in which a 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 parents or legal guardians of dependent students as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code. In general, the university does not make education records available to the parents of a student. However, where the university believes that it is in a dependent student’s best interest, information from the student’s education records may, at the university’s discretion, be released to the parents or legal guardians of such a dependent student. Such disclosure generally will be limited to information about a student’s official status at the university, but parents or legal guardians of a dependent student may also be notified upon the authorization of the dean of the student’s college, or the vice president for student and academic services, or the dean of students, or their designees in the following cases:
• when a student has voluntarily withdrawn from the university or has been required by the university to withdraw;
• when a student has been placed on academic warning;
• when the student’s academic good standing or promotion is at issue;
• when a student engages in alcohol- or drug-related behavior that violates Cornell policies;
• when a student has been placed on disciplinary probation or restriction;
• in exceptional cases when a student otherwise engages in behavior calling into question the appropriateness of the student’s continued enrollment in the university.
Unless otherwise indicated in writing by the student at the time of registration, or thereafter, the university will presume that a full-time undergraduate student is a dependent as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code. Undergraduate students who are not financially dependent and do not wish to permit their parents or legal guardian access to their education records should advise the Office of the University Registrar in writing and provide evidence of financial independence. Graduate and professional students are not assumed to be financially dependent upon their parents or legal guardian for these purposes.
- To authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State Educational authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation.
- 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 financial aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
- To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the university, in order to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; administer student aid programs; or improve instruction; or to accrediting organizations if the information is necessary to carry out accrediting functions.
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
- To appropriate officials in a health or safety emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
- To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, if the university determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense; or if the disclosure concerns sex offenders and other individuals required to register under section 17010 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
- If the disclosure is limited to directory information. Cornell University has defined directory information to include the following: name, local and cell phone numbers, email address, photograph, major field of study and college attended, academic level, dates of attendance, enrollment status, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height (of members of athletic teams), and any degrees earned and awards received. Directory information may be released unless the student indicates otherwise in his/her privacy settings in Student Center. Students may rescind their no-release request at any time through the Student Center.
3. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate.
A student who wishes to ask the university to amend a record should write the the Office of the University Registrar, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.
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.
4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Cornell 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 20202-5901