Administrative Policies Related to Federal Guidelines
In cooperation with the Veterans Administration (VA), the University participates in numerous veteran’s benefits programs including educational assistance, rehabilitation, deferred payment, and tutorial programs.
Any student who is eligible for veterans benefits or would like more information about VA rules and veterans programs should contact the Boston University Veteran’s Service Manager in the Office of the University Registrar, 881 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215; 617-353-3612.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act—FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s education records. In compliance with FERPA, Boston University does not disclose personally identifiable information contained in student education records, except as authorized by law.
Information about students’ rights under FERPA and Boston University’s implementation of FERPA is set forth below.
Student Rights Under FERPA
In general, a student has the right to:
- inspect his or her education records;
- require that the University obtain his or her prior written consent before releasing personally identifiable information from education records; and
- request that corrections be made to education records if the student believes the records are inaccurate or misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
A student is defined as one who is, or has been, officially registered, and who attends, or has attended, classes at Boston University.
With certain exceptions, education records are records relating to a student that are maintained by the University.
Personally identifiable information includes a student’s name, the name of the student’s parent or other family members, the address of the student or student’s family, or other information that would allow a student to be identified.
A dependent student is a student who meets the criteria of dependency as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
A parent means a parent of a student and includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.
Directory information consists of the following items of information:
- Academic program (degree, major, minor)
- Dates of attendance, full-time/part-time status
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Email directory lookup
- Local address and BU directory phone number
- School or college
- Listing in Commencement program
- Listing in yearbook
Unless restricted, Boston University may disclose any of the items of Directory Information without a student’s consent. Students may restrict the disclosure of any item of Directory Information by indicating this restriction on the Personal Page on the Student Link (Personal tab, Data Restriction option).
The right to restrict disclosure of Directory Information does not include the right to remain anonymous in class and may not be used to impede classroom communication.
Please Note: Even after graduation, privacy preferences remain in effect. As an example: If a student has restricted the disclosure of his or her degrees, honors, and awards, the University will not confirm degrees earned to prospective employers or any other party without the student’s permission.
Inspection of Educational Records
To inspect education records, a student should submit a written request identifying the records to be inspected to the appropriate University official using the Access Form. Students may obtain this form in the Office of the Dean of each school or college or in the Office of the University Registrar.
Written requests to access records will receive a response within a reasonable time, but not more than 45 days after submission. A University official will arrange for access and will notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. The University may charge a fee for a copy of the education records requested.
If a student does not know the specific location of the record, the request may be filed with the Access Officer, Office of the University Registrar, Boston University, 881 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.
Information which a Student Does Not Have the Right to Inspect
A student does not have a right under FERPA to inspect information that is not an education record, such as:
- Medical treatment records;
- Law enforcement records;
- Employment records (provided that employment is unrelated to student status);
- Records containing information about the individual that were created or received after he or she is no longer a student and that are not directly related to the student’s attendance at the University;
- Records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel that are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record; and
- Peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor.
Note: A student may have rights to inspect such records under other laws.
In addition, a student does not have the right to access certain education records, such as:
- Confidential letters of recommendation, if the student has waived his or her right of access in writing;
- Financial records of the student’s parents;
- Admissions records for a student who does not officially attend the program of admission. If the student completed a course at the University but never officially attended as a degree candidate in the program of admission, then the student has FERPA rights with respect to that course but does not have rights with respect to the admissions records for that program; and
- Records of a student that contain information on other students. The student may inspect, review, or be informed of only the specific information about that student.
Authorizing Another Person to Inspect or Receive Copies of Your Records
A current or former student who wishes to permit another person to inspect or receive copies of the student’s education records must provide a signed and dated written consent which must:
- Specify the records that may be disclosed;
- State the purpose of the disclosure; and
- Identify the person or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.
When Disclosure is Permitted Without Prior Consent of the Student
In general, the University may not disclose personal information from a student’s education records without the student’s prior consent. However, the University, in compliance with the law, may disclose personal information without the student’s prior consent under these conditions:
A. To University officials, staff, and others engaged in activities on behalf of the University with a legitimate educational interest
The University discloses information to University officials, staff, and others whom the University has determined to have a legitimate educational interest. An individual has a legitimate educational interest if the individual needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities to the University. Such individuals include officers of the University, faculty, administrative staff, law enforcement, and medical and legal personnel, and may include contractors, consultants, and professionals engaged by the University where disclosure of the information is necessary for such individuals to fulfill their duties and responsibilities to the University. In addition, these individuals may include Boston University students, persons from outside the University, and volunteers, who are requested to serve on an authorized committee or board of the University (such as a disciplinary committee or the Board of Trustees) or to otherwise perform authorized tasks for the University.
B. The information has been designated as Directory information including:
- Academic program (degree, major, minor)
- Dates of attendance, full-time/part-time status
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Email directory lookup
- Local address (if the University has only a home address in New England or New York, it is considered the local address) and BU directory phone number
- School or college
C. In health or safety emergency situations
In the case of an emergency, the University discloses information from education records to the appropriate parties, including parents, if the University deems that knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health, safety, or well-being of the student or other individuals. Such disclosure may include any disciplinary action previously taken against the student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety and well-being of that student, other students, or members of the University community.
D. In compliance with a subpoena
The University will make a reasonable effort to notify the student of the subpoena before complying. However, in the case of a subpoena issued for law enforcement purposes or an ex parte order under the USA PATRIOT Act, the University is not required to notify the student of the existence or the contents of the subpoena, or of the information furnished in response to the subpoena, if the court or other issuing agency has ordered that such information not be disclosed.
E. The information is a record of a campus disciplinary proceeding
Federal law requires the University to disclose to both the accuser and the accused student the outcome of all student disciplinary proceedings that involve a charge of sexual assault. In addition, the University may disclose the final results of student disciplinary proceedings regarding a crime of violence or a nonforcible sex offense in which a student has been found to have committed a violation of the University’s policies. Final results include name of the offender, violation, and any sanction imposed. The University can also inform parents about violations of the University’s drug and alcohol policy by a student under the age of 21.
F. To officials of other institutions or organizations
- To which the student seeks or intends to transfer or in which the student is already enrolled, provided the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. The University has a policy of forwarding records to requesting institutions in these circumstances;
- In connection with the student’s placement or participation in internships, practica, affiliations, or other programs related to the student’s courses or programs at the University; and
- To which a student has applied for or from which he/she has received financial aid to support the student’s education, in cases where the information is related to (1) determining the eligibility for, amount of, or conditions of the aid, or (2) enforcing the terms and conditions of the aid.
In cases where the University has previously transmitted such information to another institution or organization in which the student has enrolled, has been placed, or has sought financial aid, the University may send corrected records if there are changes to the information previously sent.
G. To the parents of dependent students
In rare circumstances, the University may disclose information from a student’s records to the student’s parents without the student’s prior consent if the student meets the criteria of dependency as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. In cases of divorce or separation, when relying on dependency as the basis for communication, the University reserves the right to communicate with both parents unless provided with evidence that one parent’s rights have been legally revoked or otherwise limited.
H. To authorized representatives of certain government offices
The University will release information to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Education, and state and local educational authorities in connection with an audit or an evaluation of federal or state-supported programs and to assure the enforcement of or compliance with federal or state legal requirements related to these programs.
I. In compliance with the Solomon Amendment
The University will release student information for the purposes of military recruiting to the Department of Defense. The information released is limited to student name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, levels of education and degrees received, prior military experience, and the most recent educational institution attended unless restricted.
J. In response to complaints and legal actions involving the student and the University
If a student or parent initiates legal action or brings complaints against the University, the University may disclose education records relevant to the response to the complaint without a court order or subpoena. In addition, in the event that the University initiates legal action against a parent or student, the University may disclose education records relevant to the action without a court order or subpoena.
K. To authorized representatives of the state and local government
The University may disclose information to these authorized representatives if disclosure is allowed pursuant to a state statute concerning the juvenile justice system.
L. To accredited organizations
The University may release information to organizations that accredit colleges and universities for the purpose of assisting their accrediting functions.
M. To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the University
The University may disclose information to organizations seeking to improve education for or on behalf of the University (e.g., developing predictive tests or administering student aid programs).
N. In connection with notifications received under a state community notification program
The University will disclose information in connection with notifications received under a state community notification program about a student who is required to register as a sex offender.
O. To parties who provided or created a record
The University may send education records back to the creator or sender of such records for confirmation of the authenticity of the record (e.g., of a transcript or letter).
P. After removal of all personally identifiable information
If all personally identifiable information has been removed from a record and the University has made a reasonable determination that a student’s identity is not personally identifiable, the University may release information concerning a student.
Limitations of Redisclosures
Under FERPA, information disclosed by the University may be subject to restrictions against redisclosure.
Amending Educational Records
Students have the right to have their education records maintained accurately and may request amendment of records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. If the normal channels for amending education records within the University do not result in the desired corrections, students should submit a Request to Amend Education Records Form to the designated records keeper. Such forms are available from the University Registrar’s Office. The University Access Officer will inform the student of the University’s decision concerning the requested amendment within 45 days from the date of receipt of the Amendment Form. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, it will (1) inform the student of the decision, (2) advise the student of his or her right to a hearing to challenge the content of the records on the grounds that the information contained in the record is (a) inaccurate or misleading (i.e., that the information in the records has been recorded incorrectly) or (b) violates the student’s rights under FERPA, and (3) explain the procedures to request such a hearing. If, after the hearing, the University decides that the information contained in the record is not inaccurate or misleading, it will inform the student of the right to place a statement in the record commenting on the contested information or stating why the student disagrees with the University’s decision. Note: The process of amending records or requesting hearings regards only information that has been recorded inaccurately or incorrectly or that violates the student’s rights under FERPA. It is not a process to appeal grades, disciplinary decisions, or other University decisions with which the student disagrees but which have been recorded accurately. Normal review and appeal channels must be utilized where the dispute is with the decision itself and not with the accuracy with which the decision or information has been recorded.
A student has the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. A complaint must be submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the student knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation. The complaint must contain specific factual allegations giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred, and it should be forwarded to: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S. W., Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.
Questions about the University’s policies and practices or about specific educational records should be addressed to the Access Officer, Office of the University Registrar, Boston University, 881 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.