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Student Privacy – FERPA

Student Privacy/FERPA Overview

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that gives students certain rights with respect to their educational records. Below is more information about Muskegon Community College’s policies related to student privacy, including the FERPA-related forms that students may submit. For any questions about FERPA or MCC’s related policies or procedures, please email OfficeoftheRegistrar@muskegoncc.edu.

FERPA Forms for Students

If you wish for MCC to release information from your student record or speak to someone else about your student record, you must complete the FERPA Authorization to Release Information Form. If you wish to revoke an authorization that you previously submitted, you must complete a FERPA Retraction Form. Students wishing to withhold the release of their directory information must complete the Directory Information Non-Disclosure form.

During the College’s suspension of on-campus services due to COVID-19, students may submit FERPA forms by email to OfficeoftheRegistrar@muskegoncc.edu. All FERPA forms submitted by email must be sent from the student’s official MCC email account. FERPA forms may also be submitted by mail or fax to the mailing address or fax number below. FERPA forms submitted by mail or fax must include a photocopy of the student’s government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport).

Muskegon Community College – Registrar’s Office
221 S Quarterline Road
Muskegon MI 49442
Fax: (231) 777-0209

FERPA Authorization to Release Form
FERPA Retraction Form

Directory Information Non-Disclosure Form
Letter of Recommendation Permission Form

Student Rights Under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives students the following rights with respect to their educational records:

  1. The right to inspect and review your education record within 45 days after the College receives a request for access. If you want to review your record, submit to the Registrar a written request that identify the records you wish to inspect.
  2. The right to request an amendment of your education record if you believe it is inaccurate or misleading. If you feel there is an error in your record, you should submit a statement to the Registrar for the record, clearly identifying the part of the record you want changed and why you believe it is inaccurate or misleading. The Office of the Registrar will notify you of their decision and advise you regarding appropriate steps if you do not agree with the decision.
  3. The right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with “legitimate educational interests.” A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official has a “need to know” information from your education record in order to fulfill his or her official responsibilities. Examples of people who may have access, depending on their official duties, and only within the context of those duties, include: faculty and staff, agents of the institution, students employed by the institution or who serve on official institutional committees, and representatives of agencies under contract with the College.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
  5. 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.

Directory Information

MCC does not release student record information without the expressed, written consent of the student. There are, however, some exceptions. For example, information that the College considers “Directory Information” may be released without the student’s written consent. MCC considers the following student information to be Directory Information:

  1. Student’s name
  2. Major field of study
  3. Weight and height of athletes
  4. Participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
  5. Dates of attendance, degrees, date of graduation and awards
  6. Photographs

Directory Information does not include student identification numbers, Social Security numbers, or other personally identifiable information.

MCC considers student mailing address and email address to be Limited Directory Information that may be disclosed, without the student’s written consent, only for educational purposes and at the discretion of College administration. This includes (but is not limited to):

  1. MCC may disclose eligible students’ mailing address and email address to the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society for the purpose of PTK inviting students to join the honor society and receive the benefits of PTK membership.
  2. MCC may disclose student mailing address and email address to representatives from other colleges and universities who are seeking to offer educational and/or scholarship opportunities to MCC students or graduates.

MCC will not disclose student contact information to outside organizations seeking to use such information for noneducational, commercial purposes

Withholding the Release of Directory Information

Students have the right to withhold the release of their Directory Information. To do so, students must complete a Directory Information Non-Disclosure Form, which may be submitted by email to OfficeoftheRegistrar@muskegoncc.edu from the student’s official MCC email account. Please note three important details when submitting a Directory Information Non-Disclosure request:

  1. The College receives many inquiries for Directory Information from a variety of sources outside the institution, including friends, parents, relatives, prospective employers, the news media, and honor societies. Having a Directory Information Non-Disclosure request on your record will prevent MCC from releasing your Directory Information to these third-parties without your written consent. MCC assumes no liability as a result of honoring your instructions to block the release of your Directory Information.
  2. A Directory Information Non-Disclosure request applies to all elements of Directory Information on your record. MCC does not apply a Directory Information Non-Disclosure request differently to different pieces of Directory Information.
  3. MCC will honor students’ Directory Information Non-Disclosure request but cannot assume responsibility to contact you for subsequent permission to release the hold.

Additional Resources and Contact Information

For questions about MCC’s policies and procedures related to FERPA, please email the Registrar’s Office at OfficeoftheRegistrar@muskegoncc.edu or call the Registrar, Aaron Richman, at (231) 777-0240.

The name and address of the federal office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

U.S. Department of Education FERPA Website

Frequently Asked Questions

What is FERPA?

One of the most significant changes a parent experiences in sending a son or daughter to college is the difference in privacy standards for educational records. MCC has a long history and tradition of protecting student privacy. Additionally, MCC is subject to a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also called FERPA) which sets privacy standards for student educational records and requires institutions to publish a compliance statement, including a statement of related institutional policies.

Why do I have limited access to my son or daughter’s college records especially when I am paying the bills?

Under FERPA, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary and secondary school setting are transferred to students, once a student has turned eighteen or is attending any post-secondary educational institution (such as MCC). This includes dual-enrolled high school students. Parents can be given access to their son or daughter’s records if the student authorizes the permission in writing.

If a high school student is 17 and taking classes at Muskegon Community College, are the FERPA rights with the parent?

No. Section 99.3 of the FERPA regulations defines an eligible student as an individual who has reached the age of 18 or who attends a post-secondary institution (such as MCC). If a college student is under the age of 18, that student is still guaranteed FERPA rights for their MCC educational records, because the student is attending a post-secondary institution.

How can I find out my son’s or daughter’s grades?

The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults can be a challenge. They’re not always as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.

As a parent, can I obtain my son’s or daughter’s schedule from MCC for the purpose of purchasing textbooks at the College Bookstore?

Not without obtaining the student’s written consent to release the student’s schedule to his or her parent. At MCC, a student’s class schedule is not listed as Directory Information; therefore, this information may not be released to anyone other than the student without the student’s written consent.

What records does FERPA cover?

The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions, the FERPA regulations give privacy protection to all students’ “education records.” Education records are defined as “those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.” Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files. FERPA does not cover counseling or medical records, but other laws and policies do.

What is an education record?

Any record that is maintained by MCC and is personally identifiable to the student is considered an “education record.” Exceptions to this are medical records, law enforcement records, employment records, alumni records, and sole-possession records such as notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person.

Will I be notified if my son or daughter is placed on academic probation?

No. Information about grades and academic standing is sent directly to students. You can, of course, ask your child to keep you informed about his academic performance.

If an employee receives a telephone call from a parent claiming there is a family emergency and they need to contact their child immediately, can the employee tell the parents the day, time and location of their child’s class?

Generally, the answer is “no.” At MCC, a student’s class schedule is not listed as Directory Information; therefore, this information may not be released without the student’s prior consent. However, every effort will be made to contact the student to give them the emergency information.

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