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Protecting Personal Information

FERPA and Information Security at Northwestern College

Northwestern College carefully protects all personal information in our possession regarding students and their families. The school employs office procedures and password-protected computer systems to ensure the security of paper and electronic records. The school does not disclose its security procedures to students or the general public to protect the effectiveness of those procedures. Access to social security numbers is strictly limited to those School Officials (see definition below) with a need-to-know, as determined by the Registrar.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

FERPA provides current and former students with the right to inspect and review educational records, the right to seek to amend those records, the right to limit disclosure of information from the records and the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Students may also waive their rights to inspect confidential letters or statements of recommendation.

School Official:

In accordance with FERPA, the student's consent is not required when a School Official has a legitimate educational interest in the student's educational record; that is, if the official needs to review this information in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility. However, this does not constitute authorization to share that information with a third party without the student's written consent.

A "School Official" is a person employed by the school in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the school has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or accrediting agency); a person serving on the Board of Directors; or a student serving in an official position/capacity, or assisting a school official in performing his/her tasks.

Financial Aid Information:

Certain information necessary for the processing of federal financial aid programs may be disclosed to parents of dependent students. In order for a person to be considered a “parent” for this purpose, the individual must be listed as such on the student’s FAFSA application.

Directory Information:

School Officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about a student nor permit inspection of student records without the student's written permission, unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by FERPA. Under the provisions of the Act, a school may disclose information about a student if it has designated that the information is "Directory Information". Northwestern College has designated the following as Directory Information:

  • student's name, address, and telephone number
  • date and place of birth
  • major field of study
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • dates of attendance
  • most recent previous educational institution attended
  • grade level or enrollment status (e.g., full-time or part-time)
  • degrees, honors, and awards received
  • date of graduation
  • photographs (including candid photos/videos taken on school premises or at school events)
  • email address

Students’ Rights Under FERPA

Right to Review Educational Records:

FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. Students have the right to review their educational records within 45 days of the day the school receives a written request for access. Students requesting a review should submit to the Registrar a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The Registrar will notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained in the office of the Registrar, the student will be advised of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

Right to Request an Amendment:

Students have the right to request an amendment to educational records that are believed to be inaccurate. Students requesting a change must write the college official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, 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.

Right to Consent to Disclosures:

Students have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. Disclosure without consent is permitted to law enforcement agencies or emergency services agencies in the performance of their duties or when student safety may be in jeopardy.

Right to File Complaint:

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Northwestern College 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.