Howard Community College (HCC) protects the confidentiality of student records by complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and its amendments.
Student Records Information
Student records contain information directly relating to a current or formerly enrolled student and are maintained by the college or a party acting on behalf of the college. Directory information is student record information that is generally considered not harmful or an invasion of privacy if released. HCC identifies the following items as directory information: students’ names, addresses, email addresses, photographs, phone numbers, high school attended, areas of study, enrollment dates, degrees, honors and awards, participation in officially recognized college activities or sports, and athletes’ weight and height. FERPA allows the release of directory information without student consent. However, the college generally releases only the following information: students’ names, high school attended, dates of enrollment, areas of study, degrees and certificates earned and unearned, and confirmation of honors and awards or a lack thereof. Students may request that their directory information be withheld by submitting a written request using the appropriate form obtained from the office of records, registration, and veterans affairs (RRVA). The college honors these requests until the student requests in writing that the request to withhold be terminated. Similarly, students have the ability to designate third parties who may request student record information. These permissions are maintained in the student information system and remain valid until the student requests in writing that the permission be terminated. Third party access to request information does not include the ability to request amendments to the student’s record; therefore, third parties may not conduct business with the college on behalf of the student.
Information that is not a part of a student record includes:
Access to Student Records
A person attending or having attended HCC as a student will have the right to inspect and review any student records directly relating to them with the exception of the following:
In order to inspect and review these records, the student must submit a written request in the presence of designated personnel of the office maintaining the records. Requests for inspection and review by the student shall be granted as soon as possible, but no later than forty-five days after the date of request. Documents or files may not be altered or removed by the student, and requests for copies other than official transcripts will be denied.
Except as provided below, the college may not release personally identifiable information in education records or directory information, or allow anyone access to those records, unless the student has given written consent for the release of records including the reason for release, and to whom the records should be released. A copy of the released record is furnished to the student, if requested. Except as noted below, all individuals who request or obtain file access must submit an explanatory statement. The college is responsible for preparing and maintaining a record of requests and the reasons why the documents were released.
Education records may be released to the following entities/individuals without the consent of the student:
It should be noted that as of January 3, 2012, the United States Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expanded the circumstances under which student record information, including student’s Social Security Numbers, grades, or other private information, may be shared without the student’s written consent. The United States Comptroller General, the United States Attorney General, the United States Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities may disclose student record information 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. Federal and state authorities may allow access to student records information to researchers performing certain types of studies in certain cases even when HCC objects to or does not request such research. Federal and state authorities must obtain certain use-restrictions and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive student record information, 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 student consent student record information, and they may track student participation in education and other programs by linking personally identifiable information to other personal information that they obtain from other federal or state data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military services, and migrant student records systems.
In the event that a person is a student and an employee of the college, separate records shall be kept. The confidentiality of student records shall be maintained by the institution, and academic records shall not be accessible for personnel reasons unless released by the student.
Authority to Release Records
Student records will be released only to the individual or administrative unit that has custody of the records. RRVA is custodian of all personal, biographic, and academic information, and the information will be released only as authorized by the registrar. Other records may be released by the individual, office, or administrative unit that is the originator or custodian of the records unless the student has opted out of such releases. Individuals, offices, or administrative units that maintain duplicate copies of records are not authorized to release these records unless authorized by the originator or custodian of the records in writing. Requests for non-directory information will only be released using methods that are in compliance with FERPA and federal encryption standards.
Information that is Not Released Outside of the College
Transcripts or other official academic records, letters of recommendation, and similar comments and observations that are received by the college from secondary schools and other colleges and universities will not be released outside of the college, even when requested by the student.
The registrar may make an exception to the policy when the student is unable to obtain a duplicate, such as in the case of foreign students when such students are unable to obtain duplicate sets of foreign academic credentials, or where records have been destroyed; such documents remain the sole property of the institution that initially issued the documents.
Right to Challenge Student Records
The student has the right to request amendment to education records that the student considers to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights. The following United States Department of Education regulations apply to correction of errors of fact in student records:
When a student wants to challenge the content, release, or withholding of any official record, file, or data, the student may submit a challenge in writing to the registrar. If the content is being challenged, the student must clearly identify the part of the record to be changed and specify why it should be changed. If the challenge cannot be resolved informally, the student will be entitled to a hearing before an appropriate adjudicatory body of the college as designated by the president.
Notice to Students of Rights
These guidelines are published in the college catalog, on the college’s website, and in a hard copy that is available upon request in RRVA.
Policy Manual Review/Revision: 02/13/15