The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) helps protect the privacy of student education records and affords each student the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records and to limit disclosure of information from those records. Meridian University is the custodian of its students’ education records.
According to the law, a person becomes a student for purposes of FERPA when they are "in attendance" at an institution. This includes attendance classes in person, remotely by videoconference, satellite, Internet, and/or other electronic and telecommunications technologies. This does not include prospective students or applicants to any academic programs of the University.
FERPA becomes effective on the first day of classes for those newly enrolled students who have been enrolled and attended at least one course. A person who accepted an admission offer but did not attend at least one course, or a newly admitted student who canceled his/her registration either before or after the quarter begins, is not covered by FERPA.
Students may contact the Academic Records office at [email protected] for more information.
The students’ FERPA rights are as follows:
- The right to inspect and review their education record within 45 days of the date Meridian receives the access request. Students should submit to the Academic Records Office an official written request that identifies the record(s) requested for inspection. The Academic Records Office will send notification of the time and place where the record may be inspected.
- The right to request an amendment of the educational record that a student believes is inaccurate or misleading. To request an amendment, please write to the Record’s Office, clearly identifying the amendment, and specifying why the record is inaccurate and/or misleading.
- If Meridian decides not to amend the record as requested, Meridian will notify the student. Additional information regarding the hearing procedure to contest the non-amendment decision will be provided at the time of notification.
The right to provide written consent before Meridian discloses personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education record, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
Meridian 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 typically a person employed by Meridian in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of Meridian who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from education records, such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent, or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official typically 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 Meridian.
The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Meridian to comply with the requirements of FERPA. FERPA is administered by the:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605
“FERPA permits the disclosure of PII from students’ education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations. Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, §99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the institution to record the disclosure. Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures. A postsecondary institution may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student:
- To other school officials, including teachers, within Meridian whom the school has determined to have legitimate educational interests. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) – (a)(1)(i)(B)(3) are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
- To officials of another school where 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, subject to the requirements of §99.34. (§99.31(a)(2))
- To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs. Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs. These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf. (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
- 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. (§99.31(a)(4))
- To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction. (§99.31(a)(6))
- To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions. (§99.31(a)(7))
- To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes. (§ 99.31(a)(8))
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. (§99.31(a)(9))
- To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to § 99.36. (§ 99.31(a)(10))
- Information the school has designated as “directory information” under §99.37. (§99.31(a)(11))
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39. The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding. (§99.31(a)(13))
- To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
- To 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. (§99.31(a)(15))
Students will be asked to complete a Release of Directory Information form in their annual enrollment agreement. This form provides a directive as to whether or not the student authorizes release of certain directory information without written consent. The absence of student consent, however, does not change the rights or obligations of Meridian under FERPA or its regulations, including Section 99.3 above, to disclose directory information without student consent. The student can at any time alter this directive by contacting the Record’s Office and submitting a new form.
The following information, considered “directory information” may be disclosed to the public by any Meridian University employee unless the student has specifically requested in writing that this information be withheld. This is supported by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Email address
- Local address
- Telephone number (any listed)
- Birth date and place of birth
- Year in school
- Enrollment status and credit hours
- Dates of enrollment or attendance
- Degrees and awards received
- Most recent attendance of previous educational institution
- Anticipated graduation date
Meridian University may disclose any of those items without written prior consent unless notified in writing by the student. Such requests are accepted and entered at any time during the student's attendance at Meridian. Upon receipt of such a request, no further Directory Information will be disclosed.
The complete text of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (and its interpretation) is available in the Academic Records Office.
Records of Deceased Students
Education records are no longer protected under FERPA after a student’s death; consequently, the disposition of records pertaining to a deceased individual is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. Meridian University maintains full discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, education records and other identifying information of deceased students should be disclosed.
Meridian faculty will also exercise their own professional and ethical judgement when choices of disclosure are not regulated by FERPA.
Student educational records are located and maintained by school administrators in one or more of the following offices:
Admissions: Admissions staff are responsible for maintaining files that contain letters of recommendation for admissions to the University, transcripts of work performed at other institutions, the student’s personal, application materials, admission agreements, and/or other materials as necessary for admission purposes. All materials submitted become the property of the University. Admissions staff and members of the admissions committees of the various programs have access to these files for the purpose of carrying out the admissions function. After a student has been admitted to the University, these files are transferred to Academic Records.
Academic Records: The Academic Records Office is responsible for maintaining files that contain official transcripts of work performed by Meridian University students at other institutions, documentation supporting the official Meridian transcript entries, and copies of applicable correspondence written by faculty and administration along with student replies. Such correspondence is generally related to a student’s academic program or progress in that program. Members of the administration and faculty have access to these files as permitted by their student advisement roles. Also, the records staff have access to these files in order to maintain them and to provide data to authorized persons. After graduation or withdrawal, Meridian maintains the student file and those student records necessary to verify the transcript.
Financial Aid: The Financial Aid Office is responsible for maintaining files that contain applications and award letters for all forms of federal and institutional aid, correspondence with lenders, loan-tracking documents, and information regarding awards from previous institutions. The Financial Aid Office staff have access to these files in order to process financial aid applications and advise students. Financial Aid files may be destroyed four years after a student has been determined inactive.
Student Accounts: The Student Accounts Office is responsible for maintaining files that contain payment agreements, student and third party payments, authorization to charge or reverse charges, correspondence with the student and with third party sponsors, collections information and bankruptcy documentation. Student Accounts staff, as well as members of the University’s administration, have access to these files in order to justify all data activity and remain compliant with auditors as well as to advise students. Student account files may be destroyed seven years after a student has been determined inactive.
Students with Disabilities: The Director of Assessment and Student Development maintains files on students who have registered their disabilities and/or requested accommodations under our policy. The Academic Records Office staff have access to those files as necessary to implement approved accommodation requests.
Academic Integrity: The Student Development Committee (SDC), chaired by the Director of Assessment and Student Development maintains all files regarding Academic Integrity and alleged dishonesty/plagiarism cases that are adjudicated by the SDC.
Administrative Director: The Administrative Director is responsible for maintaining files that contain background information and official documents about alleged student misconduct, disciplinary actions, and student grievances as they arise. Information about alleged student misconduct, disciplinary hearings, and student grievances is considered to be confidential and is divulged on a strict “need-to-know” basis. The Administrative Director and selected administrative staff have access to the files for the purpose of conducting necessary investigation charges, administering disciplinary or grievance hearings and maintaining institutional records of such hearings. As each investigation is resolved, the file is transferred to the Academic Records Office for permanent maintenance.
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.