Records: Retention, Access, and Protection

In accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended in 1976, and the USA Patriot Act of 2001 (as amended), the following policies are established by Berea College.

Contents of Files and Directories

FERPA permits educational institutions to designate certain items pertaining to the student as “directory information.” These points of information may be disclosed by the College without the consent of the student. At Berea College, the following types of personally identifiable information have been designated as “directory information”: the student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, dates of attendance, major and minor (if any), participation in officially recognized activities and athletics, weight and height of athletic team members, degrees and awards received, and most recent previous institution attended. Directory information may be released to parties having a legitimate educational interest in the information. A student may request that the College not voluntarily release any information to anyone, including in media or news releases. Students who wish to exercise their rights under the law to refuse to permit release of any or all of the categories of personally identifiable information with respect to themselves must notify the Vice President for Student Life in writing, preferably before completion of registration for the first term of enrollment for that academic year.

Student records are defined as those records created to assist the offices of the Registrar, Admissions, Labor Program Office, Residential Student Life Office, Student Success & Transition, and Institutional Research and Assessment in their support of basic institutional objectives and any records identified by student name that contain personally identifiable information in any medium. Each of these offices maintains a list of the documents routinely kept in files retained by that office. Permanent student records are defined as those kept in perpetuity by the institution. The permanent records consist of the original admission application, and the academic and labor transcripts. Copies of the Records Retention and Disposal Schedule are available from the Student Life Administrative Office. FERPA information is located on the Registrar's Copies of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (as amended), which is commonly known as “FERPA”, are available in the reference section of the Library, and at the U.S. Department of Education. For information on the USA Patriot Act of 2001 (as amended), see the Association of Research Libraries.

Student Review of Records

A. Access to Records

Upon written request, a student may inspect and review those educational records maintained by the College for that student. Upon receipt of a written request, the office holding the requested records must make them available to the student within 30 days. Typically, student records must be reviewed in the office housing that set of records. Students may make a written request for copies of Berea-only materials contained in their files. At this time, there is no charge for copying these records.

Under the law, a student has the right to challenge any information contained in the record that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of one’s privacy or other rights. Provision is made under the law for a hearing should the matter not be resolved between the student and the person responsible for the file in question. Request forms for such a hearing and information about the procedures to be followed are available from the Office of the Registrar. Under the law, such a hearing may not be convened to contest grades. (See Appeals of Grades.)

B. Exclusions

Students may see all recommendations (references) written on their behalf except for recommendations to which the student has waived the right of access. At the time the student applies for admission, financial aid, placement services, or for any other service requiring recommendations, the student will be given the opportunity to waive the right to see the completed recommendation. The College may not require the student to waive this right. Whether a student has waived the right to access, the student may request a list of names of all persons who have written references contained in that student’s file.

Students may not have access to financial records of their parents or to any information therein unless there is a signed release.

Records of College counselors and Student Health Services are confidential and may not be reviewed personally by the student, although the student may request in writing that another appropriate professional person of the student’s choice review these records. Any cost of such a review is the responsibility of the student.

Access to Records

A. Release of Records

The College will not permit access to or the release of educational records of a student, including grades and transcripts, other than directory information without the written consent of the student to any party except:

  1. College officials who have legitimate educational interest;
  2. authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the U.S., the Department of Education, or an administrative head of an education agency, in connection with an audit or evaluation of federally-supported educational programs;
  3. in connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid or scholarships or in connection with the continuation of such aid or scholarship;
  4. State or local officials or authorities to whom such information is specifically required to be reported (provided that statute was adopted prior to November 14, 1974);
  5. educational research organizations with the understanding that personally identifiable material may not be transmitted to a third party;
  6. educational accrediting agencies;
  7. in compliance with the provisions of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, under which the College is obligated to release educational records (pursuant to an ex parte order) to a representative of the U.S. Attorney General in connection with a terrorism investigation or prosecution. The College is not permitted under the USA Patriot Act of 2001 to place a disclosure notice in the student’s file in the case of this type of records release;
  8. in compliance with a civil judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. The College must comply with the order even if the student cannot be reached although every reasonable effort will be made to notify the student (except in the case of the USA Patriot Act of 2001);
  9. parents or guardians, as provided below.

B. Written Consent

Written consent by the student to release educational records to a third party must specify the records to be released and the recipient of such records. Request forms for the release of appropriate records will be made available in each office containing educational records.

C. Notification of Parents

Berea College recognizes the importance of support and interest of parents and families of students in all areas of the college program. Students are encouraged to share information about their experience and programs with their families. Normally, information regarding the status and progress of students 18 years of age and older is shared with parents by the College under the procedures to follow. Exceptions may be made in unusual circumstances upon request of the student and approval of the Director of Student Academic Records and Accounts for academic information and the Vice President for Student Life for other information. The College supports and follows the provisions of FERPA, which protects students from indiscriminate use of student records. FERPA permits, but does not require, provision of billing information to parents of financially-dependent students (for financial aid purposes, whether a student is “financially independent” or “dependent” is determined by federal tax laws and financial aid regulations). The parents of a “financially dependent” student may make a written declaration that the student is currently a dependent pursuant to IRC Section 152 AND may request educational records.

  1. Letter of Notification —Parents, guardians, next-of-kin, or another person designated by the student will be sent a letter providing information about the academic calendar, including the dates for registration and confirmation and the dates grades are released to students via the College’s secure Web site, along with a summary of how grades are defined by the College. Students are encouraged to discuss their courses, grades, and experiences at the College with their families. The College will honor requests by students that the letter of notification not be sent home. Requests are to be made in writing to the Office of the Registrar (CPO 2168, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404) no later than the end of the registration period.
  2. Emergencies —Parents, guardians, or other persons indicated in the appropriate student records will be notified in cases of emergency. (See Emergency Contact Information.) The Student Life Administrative Office, shall determine whether an emergency exists.