• A Hartwick student using a microscope for research.
  • A Hartwick student using a microscope in the science lab.
  • Hartwick students giving a presentation in front of the class.
  • A Hartwick professor discussing Botany with a student.

FERPA FAQ

For Parents
For Students
For Staff and Faculty

FOR PARENTS

Why can't I get my son/daughter's grades/schedule? I'm paying the bills!
FERPA does not permit Hartwick to release non-directory information without the signed consent of your child. Per Hartwick policy, regardless of whether written consent has been granted by a student, we do not release grade (including GPA) or registration (class schedule, etc.) information over the phone.

What if my son or daughter is still a minor?
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a post-secondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.

What rights do I have under FERPA?
FERPA covers the rights of the student to privacy.

How can I learn how my student is doing?
The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults isn't easy. 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.

FOR STUDENTS

Do my parents have access to my records?
Generally, no. Your parents may be granted access to your records if you give us a form granting them access or they provide us with proof that you are their financial dependent.

Does my spouse have access to my records?
No. Your spouse is still considered a third party, and Hartwick requires your written permission to release any non-directory information to a third party.

How can someone else pick up my transcript for me?
If you want someone else to collect your transcript, you need to send a letter of authorization to the Office of Advising and Registration either by mail or fax (607-431-4260). Please remember to name the person collecting on your behalf, and to sign the letter, otherwise we will not be able to help. Anyone collecting a transcript or class schedule will be asked to present valid photo ID.

I requested an official transcript, and my request was denied because I have an outstanding balance. Isn't this a breach of FERPA?
No. FERPA requires an institution to allow you to access your records, but does not require official copies to be issued while payment is due. You can access your transcript and print an unofficial copy from WebAdvisor at any time.

I'm a work-study student. Do I have the same responsibilities under FERPA as regular staff?
Yes. You may only access student educational records if you have a legitimate educational interest to do so.

FOR STAFF AND FACULTY

Am I allowed to let students grade each other's work?
Yes, if the work is an informal quiz where the grade is not recorded.

Is there a restriction on returning assignments?
You may not leave personally identifiable graded papers where access is unlimited. This means, for example, that you cannot leave completed assignments in a box outside your door for each student to pick out their own, even if they are in sealed envelopes with the student's name on the outside. You may leave them with a secretary or other staff member who will return each assignment to the individual student upon request.

What may I include in a letter of recommendation?
You may state whether the student is, for example, attentive or punctual.You may not include a student's GPA, grades, class standing, or any reference to progress or deficiencies, without written permission from the student.

What information may I disclose to parents?
Without express written permission from the student, you may disclose only directory information. Always check with the Registrar's Office to determine if permission has been granted. 

Is the same restriction in place for releasing information to other staff/faculty members?
Yes. All third parties--that is, anyone who is not the student--is treated the same under FERPA. The exception would be school officials (as designated by Hartwick). School officials who need access to students educational records to fulfill their professional responsibility may have higher levels of access than other Hartwick employees; therefore always be careful when releasing any information as the person asking may not be entitled to know.

May I release confidential information to officially recognized student groups?
No. Students do not have legitimate educational interest and may not be given any non-directory information unless they have explicit written consent from each student.

Do I have to record each request for information from a student's educational record?
Yes. A record must be kept of each request, unless the request/disclosure was made by:

  • the student
  • a school official with legitimate educational interest
  • a third party with written permission from the student

What do I say if someone asks for information about a student who has not signed a waiver or signed a waiver but not granted that person access to non-directory information?
Indicate that no waiver is on file from the student and you cannot discuss academic information until a waiver has been received.

I'm an advisor and sometimes make notes for myself regarding students. Are the students entitled to see these notes?
If you make the notes during a meeting with a student, then yes--they have been made in conjunction with the student and the student is entitled to see them on request. If you make the notes after the meeting, they are for your own personal use AND no one else has access to them, then they are considered "sole possession notes" and are separate from educational records.

I have access to student records through a computer system (Datatel, WebAdvisor, etc.). Are there any restrictions?
You should not use your logon privileges to access student records for any reason other than legitimate educational interest. For example, you may need to check students' transcripts to see if they meet the prerequisite to take a certain course. This is acceptable, and a necessary part of your job. Looking up the class schedule of a friend who happens to be registered at Hartwick is not acceptable and is a breach of FERPA.

Is there anything else?
You should be extremely careful when sending any student information by e-mail or fax. Normal e-mail is not a secure method of transmission, and even sending within Hartwick still has certain risks. Good practice involves excluding items such as social security/student numbers from e-mails or faxes whenever possible. It is marginally safer to fax rather than e-mail.

If a representative from an agency is doing a security clearance check, how should I handle the request?

  • Review the release to ensure it indicates authorization of educational records; a generic release or medical release is not sufficient in order to release information from the student’s educational record
  • Check ID of the person to make sure the release is valid
  • It is recommended that you keep a copy of the release and ID for one year

Is a student’s attendance record in a specific class considered directory information?
No. If a third party asks an instructor about a specific student’s attendance in his/her class, the information should not be released without the student’s written consent.