Why must I learn about Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?

The (FERPA) is a federal law that all Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) employees must follow regarding the rights of students and their education records. Each employee must go through annual training that outlines the basics of the law including the privacy of education records.

Students needs to know their rights under FERPA, and how to appeal those rights, if they feel there has been a violation.  The full FERPA policy can be found in the Student Catalog.

Are all students covered under FERPA?

FERPA applies to all students, both current, and former, who are, or have ever been enrolled at PNWU. PNWU defines “enrolled” as being enrolled on or after the first day of classes for a term

What records are covered under FERPA?

PNWU will maintain official education records containing student information.  FERPA regulations apply only to records held for institutional use concerning students who enroll at the University. Records can be in many forms, including; paper, e-mails, video, web pages, electronic forms, assignments that have been collected and recorded, and electronic databases, and files. 

What is considered “student information?"

Admission application, grades, transcripts, class schedule, degree progress, stop information, status of diploma, financial aid filing status, awards, amounts, disbursement status, student account information, student life information, forms, and demographic information.

Do I have to give consent for someone to access my student education record?

Yes, but with certain exceptions allowed by the law, no persons outside the University shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose any information from a student’s education record without your written consent.

Can I designate someone to have access to my student record?

Yes, you may share your student information and record with parents, spouse, partner, or anyone that you designate as having access to your student information.  As a student you may choose which information to share, and with whom to share it with.  

How do I share my student record?

You must complete a Consent for Student Third Party Access form. This form will designate who has access to your student record, what information they can access, and for how long.  You can add or remove this access at any time, and the access is only good until you graduate or separate from the university.

Are there situations where the University may release information without written consent?

Yes, FERPA permits information to be released from education records without written consent from specific organizations.  Review the full FERPA policy that is available in the catalog.  

Can I send a copy of my records to a third party without giving them access to my entire student record?

Yes, you may request specific information from your student education record to be sent to a third party (lawyer, employer, etc.).  Complete the Release of Student Education Records form, and send it to Enrollment Services to process your request.

What is Directory Information?

At its discretion, PNWU may publish or release directory information in accordance with the provisions of FERPA, and is defined in the PNWU FERPA policy. Directory information, is the basic enrollment information.

What photograph is used as part of directory information?

Your professional white coat photo is considered directory information. However, there are many times that PNWU will take photos, and/or video’s during special events, classroom, lab or clinical skills experiences that may be used for the purpose of publicity, illustration, advertising, and website content.  If you want to have any photos, interviews or videos used for announcements regarding student achievement or activities, you will need to complete a Photo, Interview and Video Release form, sign it, and send it to Enrollment Services at registrar@pnwu.edu

Is there any way to restrict directory information from being released?

Yes, students may withhold directory information by completing the Request for Non-disclosure of Directory Information form within two weeks after the beginning of the term. Requests for non-disclosure of directory information will be honored until graduation unless students submit a written request to have the block on their directory information removed.

Students who wish to withhold directory information after they graduate, which would include their dates of attendance and degrees conferred, must submit another written request to Enrollment Services. Students should contact Enrollment Services, if you have questions about placing restrictions on your record.

What are the consequences of withholding directory information?

If you choose to restrict directory information, no information may be released outside PNWU; including your status as a student or former student. This includes releasing degree information for graduation, prospective employers, or press releases recognizing participation in official PNWU activities.

How do I review my records, if I think there is a discrepancy?

Submit a written request to the official responsible for maintaining the record(s) of interest.  The request should clearly specify your full name, date of request, the records of interest, and brief description of the purpose for the request. The request may be emailed, as long as it includes your signature. 

The responsible official will then make arrangements for the student to inspect the records within 45 days of the request and will notify the student of the time and place of inspection. Enrollment Services will assist in identifying the appropriate official.

Can I request a copy of my records?

Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions (e.g., students may not have  a copy of academic records for which a financial “hold” exists, or a transcript of an original or source document produced by another institution or by a person not employed by PNWU). Copies will be made at the student’s expense at prevailing rates, which are listed in Student Affairs.

How do I contest or amend my records, if I believe they are inaccurate or misleading?

Submit a written request to the official responsible for the record(s) you believe needs to be changed, and indicate the reason it should be change.  If the university officials agree with your request the appropriate records will be amended.  If the university decides not to amend the record, you will be notified of your right to a hearing.  It should be noted this process is different from appealing your academic grades or evaluations, and students should review the grade appeal process policy in the catalog.

How do I request a hearing to amend my record?

Submit a written request to Student Affairs. Student Affairs will inform the student of the date, place, and the time of the hearing. The complete FERPA policy describes your rights for the hearing in the Student Catalog.

What repercussions can result from an institution, if they are found in violation of FERPA?

A formal “cease and desist” letter can be sent by the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) to the institutions administration.  Policies and practices of the institution can be modified in response to the FPCO, and PNWU could lose its federal funding, if not responsive to the FPCO, or in continuing in violation of FERPA.