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FERPA FAQs

To whose records does FERPA apply?

FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance, including students in online programs.

To what records does FERPA apply?

FERPA applies to all educational records in whatever medium which are both:
  • Maintained by VIU
  • Directly related to a student

Who is a school official?

A school official is a person employed by the university including a full-time or adjunct professor/instructor, an administrator, clerical staff, a member of the board of trustees or a member of committees and disciplinary boards, or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary committee, with legitimate educational interests.

What is a legitimate educational interest?

In accordance with FERPA, a school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility.

What are education records?

Education records are records that are both:
  • Directly related to a student
  • Maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution

What is personally identifiable information?

Personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: the student's name; the name of the student's parent or other family member; the address of the student or student's family; a personal identifier, such as the student's social security number or student identification number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable; or other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable.

What is Directory Information?

Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At VIU it includes the student's name, address, telephone number(s), photograph, e-mail address, date and place of birth, program undertaken, dates of attendance, certificates/diplomas/degrees, and honors (including President’s List and Dean's List).
Note: Directory information is information that the university may disclose, but it is not required to do so. It is university policy to refrain from actively disclosing addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth; however we routinely verify this information. The university does not disclose social security numbers, personal identification numbers, grades, grade point averages, oor academic actions unless the student has signed a consent form.

Can students control disclosure of Directory Information?

Yes, students are notified of their right to control the disclosure of Directory Information in the Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA which is published in the catalog. Students are required to complete a Directory Information Withhold/Release Form and submit the form in person at the Registrar's Office with a photo ID. If a student elects to control disclosure, no information will be disclosed on the student, nor will verification of enrollment be given to any callers.

Do I need to do anything specific to allow my directory information to be released?

No, you do not do anything. Unless you submit Directory Information Withhold form, it is assumed you have agreed to Directory Information Release.

What about information that is not listed in the Directory Information? How is the release of this information controlled?

Information not listed in the Directory is only released with the student’s written consent.

How can I request to withhold my directory information?

Please submit a Directory Information Withhold Form to the Registrar’s Office.

If I change my mind and want to release my directory information, what shall I do?

If you no longer wish to prevent the disclosure of your directory information, please submit a Release Directory Information form to the Registrar’s Office.

Is prior consent always necessary before releasing information from a student's education record?

Prior consent is not necessary to release or confirm Directory Information from a student's education record unless the student has placed a non-disclosure request on his/her records. However, all requests of this nature should be referred to the Registrar’s Office.

Who should I contact with questions?

Students who have questions about FERPA or the disclosure of their personal information should contact the Registrar’s Office at 703-591-7042 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How can I request to inspect my education records?

Students may inspect and review their education records upon request to the office of the appropriate record custodian. A student should submit a request to review his or her education records in writing to the registrar, dean, chairperson of an academic department, or other official who maintains the records he or she wishes to inspect. The request must specify and identify as closely as possible the desired records. At the time of the request, the student must provide proper identification (photo ID) verifying that he or she is the person whose record is being accessed. Inspection and review shall be permitted within 45 business days from the receipt of the student’s request. The designated staff person(s) must supervise the review of the contents of the record with the student. Students will be free to make notes concerning the records but will not be allowed to remove any materials from the records at the time of inspection. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only that portion of the record which relates to him or her.

How can I request to amend my education records?

Students have the right to request corrections to records they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights. The following are procedures for the correction of records:
  • A student must ask the appropriate report custodian to amend a specific record. In so doing, the student must identify the part of the record the student wants changed and specify why he or she believes it to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his or her privacy rights.
  • After reviewing the request, and within a reasonable time, the record custodian may or may not comply with the request. If the record custodian decides not to comply, the record custodian will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of the right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights.
  • Upon request, the record custodian will arrange for a hearing and will notify the student reasonably in advance of the date, location, and time of the hearing.
  • The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party. The hearing officer may be an official of the university. The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student’s education records. The student may have an advisor present at the hearing. If the student desires to have an advisor present, the student must notify the hearing officer of this fact, in writing, no later than two working days before the hearing. This advisor serves as a support person and is intended to be of direct assistance to the student before and during the hearing. The advisor may not speak for the student or address the hearing officer.
  • The hearing officer will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
  • If the hearing officer decides that the contested information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights, the hearing officer will notify the student that the student has a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the contested information and/or a statement setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision. The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s education records as long as the contested portion is maintained. If Virginia International University discloses the contested portion of the record, it will also disclose the statement.
  • If the hearing officer decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights, the record custodian will amend the record and notify the student, in writing, that the record has been amended.
  • Grades and academic/performance evaluations may be challenged under this procedure only on the basis of the accuracy of their transcription.
  • Virginia International University reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to revise its procedures regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act at any time and without notice in light of applicable legal requirements or developments.


Note: The above information is intended to give general information about FERPA and to acquaint faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue.