About the Medical College of Wisconsin

Corporate Policies and Procedures Educational (ED)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Category: General (GN)
Policy#: ED.GN.030
Applies To: All Employees and Students


The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for the maintenance, inspection, review and disclosure of information in student education records, and to provide guidance for communicating FERPA rights to students, employees and authorized parties.


Directory information – information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This term includes a student’s name(s)*, address(es), telephone number(s), MCW email address(es), photographs, electronic images, date and place of birth, major field(s) of study, current enrollment status, dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities, previous institutions attended, degrees, awards and academic honors received (including names of scholarships), and residency placements.

*To the extent it is legally and reasonably able, MCW will make good faith efforts in its communications to use the preferred rather than legal name of any student who has requested in writing to the Office of the Registrar use of a preferred name. This may not be possible in instances where MCW must, in its discretion, report or disclose the individual’s legal name, in which case MCW reserves the right to make such a report or disclosure without prior written consent from the student, subject to the terms stated herein. Questions on this matter may be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

Education record — any record (in handwriting, print, tapes, film, electronic or other medium) maintained by MCW or its agent, that is directly related to an MCW student, except:

  1. A record kept in the sole possession of the creator, used as a personal memory aid, and not accessible by or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the creator of the record.
  2. An employment record of an individual who is not employed at MCW as a result of the fact that he or she is a student. This record is made in the normal course of business, relates exclusively to the individual in his/her capacity as an employee, and is not available for use for any other purpose. This exception does not include records of a student who is employed by MCW as a result of his/her status as a student.
  3. Records which are created and maintained by MCW Public Safety in furtherance of that office’s duties at MCW.
  4. Records for a student who is 18 years of age or older, or who is attending an institution of postsecondary education, that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional or paraprofessional capacity, and used only in connection with the treatment of the student and disclosed only to individuals providing that treatment. “Treatment” does not include remedial educational activities or activities that are part of an MCW program of instruction. Note: Immunization records are considered education records.
  5. Records created or received by MCW after an individual is no longer in attendance, and that do not directly relate to the individual’s attendance as a student.

FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S. Code §1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99)

Law Enforcement Unit - any individual, office, department, division, or other component of an educational agency or institution, such as a unit of commissioned police officers or non-commissioned security guards, that is officially authorized or designated by that agency or institution.

Parent — includes a natural/adoptive parent, a guardian or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian, of the student.

Personally Identifiable Information – This term includes but is not limited to the student’s name, the name of the student’s parent or other family members, the address of the student or his/her family, a personal identifier such as the student’s date/place of birth, student number or biometric record; indirect identifiers such as mother’s maiden name; other information provided under FERPA..

Record custodian — MCW employee, or designee, who maintains education records.

School official -

  • A person employed by MCW in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff).
  • A student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee.
  • An auditor, contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom MCW has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that party: 1) performs an MCW service or function for which MCW would otherwise use employees; 2) is under MCW’s direct control regarding use and maintenance of the education records; and 3) is subject to FERPA guidelines governing the use and re-disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

Student — any person for whom MCW maintains an education record. This includes those who currently attend or have attended MCW. Student status begins the first day of the first term in which the student is in attendance.

MCW shall comply with FERPA with respect to all student education records and practices related thereto.

Directory Information
MCW shall maintain as confidential all information contained in student education records except that which is considered directory information. MCW may disclose directory information to other organizations and/or individuals outside MCW. A student has the right to restrict the release of directory information, including name, address, email address and/or telephone number, at any time, and must complete the appropriate form available in the Office of the Registrar to enact any such restriction.

Such restrictions will be effective until revoked, except that such a restriction will not apply to directory information already disclosed, printed or in the process of being printed when the request for restriction is received by MCW.

FERPA’s protection of Personally Identifiable Information within an education record ends at the time of the student’s death.

MCW 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 changes to applicable law. In the event MCW’s compliance with Title IX requires disclosure of non-directory information, such disclosure is not a violation of FERPA, as provided by applicable law.

Annual Notification to Students of FERPA Rights

Students will be notified annually of their FERPA rights by email and by publication of this policy, which is posted to the MCW corporate policies webpage and is accessible by all MCW students, faculty and staff.

Annual notifications to students of their FERPA rights regarding their education records will inform them of their rights to:

  1. Inspect and review their education records, subject to the limitations set forth in 34 C.F.R. 99. See below for instructions.
  2. Request that MCW amend any portion of the student’s education record that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights. See below for instructions and further information.
  3. Consent to disclosures of all personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except directory information as provided herein and any other information that MCW is authorized under FERPA to disclose without the student’s consent. Examples of such authorization for disclosure without consent include instances where the disclosure is:
    1. To school officials within MCW with legitimate educational interests, which includes an auditor, contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom MCW has outsourced certain services if they meet the requirements set forth in FERPA. Legitimate educational interests include: (i) Conducting business specified in the school official’s position description or contract or pursuant to written/oral direction from their supervisor or the school dean; (ii) Conducting business related to a student's education; (iii) Conducting business related to the discipline of a student; or (iv) Providing a service or benefit relating to the student, such as health care, counseling, job placement, honor societies and academic honors consideration, or financial aid including scholarships;

    2. To officials of another school, school system, or institution of postsecondary education where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled as long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer;

    3. To authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States; the Attorney General of the United States; the Secretary of the US Department of Education; or state and local educational authorities;

    4. In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary for such purposes as to: (i) determine the eligibility for the aid; (ii) determine the amount of the aid; (iii) determine the conditions for the aid; or (iv) enforce the terms and conditions of the aid;

    5. To state and local officials or authorities pursuant to FERPA;

    6. To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions, including MCW;

    7. Accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions;

    8. To parent(s) of a dependent student, as defined by the IRS, when at least one parent has claimed the student as a dependent for income tax purposes (MCW may require a certified copy of the parent’s most recent federal income tax form to verify dependency);

    9. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;

    10. Made in connection with a health or safety emergency;

    11. Directory information as designated by MCW;

    12. To a court or administrative agency in the event of legal action between MCW and the student;

    13. In connection with a disciplinary proceeding as permitted and required by law;

    14. To the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense

  4. File with the US Department of Education a complaint under 42 C.F.R. §99.63 and §99.64 concerning alleged failures by MCW to comply with FERPA or this section.
    The following office administers FERPA:

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Ave., SW
    Washington, DC 20202

    A student may also submit complaints regarding MCW’s compliance with this policy to the Office of the Registrar or the MCW Office of Corporate Compliance

MCW faculty and staff with access to student records undergo FERPA training prior to being given such access to ensure compliance with this policy and applicable law.

Inspecting Education Records
A student may request to inspect his/her education records by contacting the Office of the Registrar. The request must specify and identify as closely as possible the desired records, and is subject to the following:

  1. All inspections must be done in person.
  2. At the time of the inspection, the student must provide proper identification containing a photo ID, verifying that he/she is the person whose education record is being accessed.
  3. MCW shall make good faith efforts to ensure the desired education records are made available for inspection and review within ten (10) calendar days, but in no event later than forty-five (45) calendar days, from the Office of the Registrar’s receipt of the student's request.
  4. The designated staff person(s) must supervise in person the student’s inspection of the education record contents.
  5. A student will be free to make notes concerning his/her education record’s contents but will not be allowed to remove, copy, or record or create images (photographs, audio, etc.) of any materials from the records at the time of inspection, nor may someone do so on his/her behalf. See Fees for Copies of Records section for more details.

All requests must comply with this policy, and MCW reserves the right to reject any non-compliant or incomplete request.

MCW reserves the right to refuse the student access to the following:

  1. Information contained in the record about student(s) other than the one whose record is being inspected. The student may inspect and review only that portion of his/her record that relates to him/her. MCW reserves the right to redact or withhold all other information.
  2. Financial records, including any information those records contain of the student’s parent(s).
  3. Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the education record of the student before January 1, 1975, subject to FERPA.
  4. Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the student’s education records after January 1, 1975, subject to FERPA, if the student has waived his/her right to inspect the same, and those letters and statements are related to the student’s admission to MCW, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition.
  5. Those records that are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records.

Requests for Disclosure
A student may request MCW disclose information in his/her education record to another party or organization by completing the appropriate form in the Office of the Registrar.

MCW will maintain a record of all requests for and/or disclosures of information from a student’s education records, except requests by or disclosures to the student, a school official, a party with written consent of the student, a party presenting a valid court order or subpoena, or a party seeking only directory information.

Fees for Copies of Records
MCW does not typically provide the student copies of information in his/her education record. In the event MCW deems it appropriate to do so, MCW may charge the student a reasonable fee for copies of his/her education records, subject to FERPA. Information on these fees may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Registrar.

Refusal to Provide Copies
Although MCW will not deny a student access to his/her education records as permitted by FERPA, MCW reserves the right to deny a request for copies of education records, including transcripts, diplomas and certificates if:

  1. The student has an unpaid financial obligation to MCW;
  2. There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student;
  3. There is an unresolved academic action against the student; or
  4. The request is for copies of transcripts or test scores received from other academic institutions or organizations.

Requests to Amend Education Records
A student may request that MCW amend information in his/her education record that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. The student must provide this request in writing to the Office of the Registrar, and must clearly identify the part of his/her education record he/she wants changed, as well as specify why it is inaccurate, misleading or violates his/her privacy rights under FERPA. MCW will decide whether to amend the record as requested within a reasonable time after receiving the request. In the event MCW decides not to amend the record as requested, MCW will inform the student of its decision and of his/her right to a hearing under FERPA.

Hearings will be conducted as follows:

  1. The hearing will be held within a reasonable amount of time after the Office of the Registrar’s receipt of the request for a hearing;
  2. MCW will give the student notice of the date, time, and place reasonably in advance of the hearing;
  3. The hearing will be conducted by a disinterested party;
  4. The student will be permitted a full and fair opportunity to present during the hearing evidence relevant to the issues raised under FERPA, and may be accompanied by one or more individuals of his/her choice, including an attorney, at his/her own expense. If the student wishes an advisor to be present, the student must so notify the Office of the Registrar at least three (3) working days in advance of the hearing. An advisor may be an attorney (at the student’s sole cost and expense), in which case MCW counsel shall also be present at the hearing. The advisors’ sole roles during the hearing is limited to quiet consultation with his/her/their client and note-taking. At no time may the advisor(s) address the hearing official(s) or other attendees, or communicate on behalf of the student.
  5. The hearing official(s) shall make its decision in writing within a reasonable amount of time after the hearing, which will be based solely on evidence presented at the hearing and will include a summary of the evidence and reasons for the decision.
  6. MCW reserves the right to modify or overturn the decision of the hearing official(s) in instances where MCW determines, in its sole discretion, the decision does not comply with applicable law or institutional policies.

Grades and performance evaluations may be challenged under the above procedure only on the basis of the accuracy of their transcription.

Not Applicable

Policy Revisions

Effective Date: 7/9/2015
Revision History: 1/1/2016, 11/15/2016
Supersedes Policy: N/A
Review Date: N/A
Approved By: /S/ John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO Medical College of Wisconsin