2022-2023 University Catalog

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)


The University maintains an educational record for each student who is or has been enrolled at Northwestern Health Sciences University.  In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, student rights are covered by the act and afforded to all students at Northwestern Health Sciences University.


All students in all programs

Revised April 2017/Effective April 2017


Covered students:  If a student is 18 years of age  or enrolled in higher education, his/her student records are covered by FERPA guidelines.  It specifically covers students who are currently enrolled or were formerly enrolled.

FERPA: A Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

Record: An academic record includes paper documents, electronic files, microfilm, and other materials that contain information personally identifiable, directly related to a student, and maintained or used by the University.

Third Party: The student is the party of the first part, Northwestern Health Sciences University is the party of the second part, and the requester is the third party.


Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to educational records. The law, also known as the Buckley Amendment, applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more, visit www.ed.gov.

FERPA applies to personally identifiable information in educational records

This includes items such as the student's name, names of family members, addresses, personal identifiers such as social security numbers, and personal characteristics or other information that make the student's identity easily traceable.

Definition of educational records

Educational records are all records that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting on its behalf. A record means any information recorded in any way, including handwriting, print, tape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and digital images.

Educational records do not include the following:

  • Sole possession records - records kept in the sole possession of the maker which are used only as a personal memory aid and are not accessible or reviewed by any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record
  • Medical or psychological treatment records that include those maintained by physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Employment records, provided that employment is not contingent upon being a student
  • Law enforcement records
  • Records collected about an individual after that person is no longer a student

FERPA rights apply to students

At Northwestern Health Sciences University, FERPA rights apply to students. A student is a person who is or has been in attendance at the institution, regardless of the person's age.  

Student rights under FERPA

Under FERPA, as a student, you have:

  • The right to inspect and review any of your educational records that Northwestern Health Sciences University maintains
  • The right to seek amendment of these records
  • The right to consent to disclosure of these records
  • The right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education

The University notifies students annually of their FERPA rights in the annual calendar booklet, online in the catalog. If students believe that such rights have been violated, they may contact the Family Policy Compliance Office at the Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave SW, Washington DC 20202-4605. Additional information is available at www.ed.gov.

A student's right to see and change educational records

Upon written request, the University shall provide a student access to his or her educational records except for financial records of the student's parents or guardian; and confidential letters of recommendation where the student has signed a waiver of right of access. If the records contain information on more than one student, the requesting student may inspect, review, or be informed on only the specific information about his or her own records.

A student may obtain copies of his or her educational records at a cost of 10 cents per page, an official transcript of academic record for $10.00, and an unofficial copy of the permanent academic record for $10.00. Educational records covered by FERPA normally will be made available within 45 days of the request.

The contents of a student's educational records may be challenged by the student on the grounds that they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student by submitting a written statement to the custodian of records. The Registrar’s Office is the official custodian of records at the University.

Directory information

FERPA identifies certain information, called directory information that may be disclosed without the student's permission. The University has designated the following information as directory information:

  • Student's name
  • Local, permanent and email addresses
  • Telephone listing
  • Place of birth
  • Major fields of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Degrees, awards and honors received, including selection criteria
  • Most recently attended previous educational institution
  • Expected graduation date
  • Participation in officially-recognized activities
  • Student parking permit information
  • Job title and dates of employment when employed by the University in a position that requires student status

Restricting access to directory information (FERPA block)

A currently-enrolled student may restrict access to their directory information during the first 10 class days in any trimester. (Restricted information remains so until revoked by the student.)

FERPA block of an education record

A FERPA block on your education record means that no information is released about you to outside parties with the exception of third parties necessary for financial aid. In addition, you will not appear in the student directory and will have to sign special releases to appear in the yearbook, Student Senate directory or have your name appear publicly on an Academic Dean’s List. See procedures below for instruction and required form.

Access to student educational records

According to FERPA, non-directory information may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Exceptions include access by appropriate "School Officials". A “school official” includes a person employed by Northwestern Health Sciences University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including public safety and health services staff); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; and a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or assisting another school official in performing Northwestern Health Sciences University tasks. A school official may also include a volunteer or contractor outside of Northwestern Health Sciences University who performs an institutional service or function on behalf of Northwestern Health Sciences University (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent). Northwestern

Legitimate educational interest

Health Sciences University defines "legitimate educational interest" as "needs the record(s) to carry out employment, committee, service, or professional responsibilities to Northwestern Health Sciences University." Therefore, any university employee, or person acting on behalf of the university, may have access to student records without the student's written consent if that person needs the access to carry out his/her responsibilities.

Authorization to discuss your information with outside parties

Students must give written permission for Northwestern Health Sciences University to discuss their educational records with an outside party, such as a parent or a spouse. Concerns may include financial aid processing, account payment or academic performance. See procedure below for how to grant permission for a third party to access your records.

See the list below of the disclosures that post-secondary institutions may make without consent.

FERPA permits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from students’ education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations.  Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, §99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the institution to record the disclosure.  Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures.  A post-secondary institution may disclose personally identifiable information from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student –

  • To other school officials, including faculty, within Northwestern Health Sciences University whom the University has determined to have legitimate educational interests.  This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the University has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) - (a)(1)(i)(B)(2) are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
  • To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of §99.34.  (§99.31(a)(2)) 
  • To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs.  Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs.  These entities may make further disclosures of personally identifiable information to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf.  (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
  • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.  (§99.31(a)(4))
  • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to:  (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.  (§99.31(a)(6))
  • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.  ((§99.31(a)(7))
  • To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.  (§99.31(a)(8))
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.  (§99.31(a)(9))
  • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to §99.36.  (§99.31(a)(10))
  • Information the school has designated as “directory information” under §99.37.  (§99.31(a)(11))
  • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39.  The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.  (§99.31(a)(13))
  • To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
  • To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))


To request access to Student’s Academic Records:

The student should submit to the registrar or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.  The Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  If the records are not maintained by the office, the Registrar shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

To request amendment of an education record

A student who wishes to ask the school to amend a record should write the school official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

If the school decides not to amend the record as requested, the school will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.  Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

To restrict access to all or some directory information (FERPA block):

A currently-enrolled student may restrict access to all or some of their directory information during the first 10 class days in any trimester. (Restricted information remains so until revoked by the student.)  The form is available in the Registrar’s Office or online using the following link:

To authorize the release of protected records:

Student must complete an Authorization for Release of Student Information Form and return to the Office of the Registrar.  The form is available in the Registrar’s Office or online using the following link:

To Grant Permission for letter of reference and/or verbal recommendation

Students must give written permission for any Northwestern Health Sciences University faculty member or administrator to write a letter of reference or provide a verbal recommendation for you that includes information that could be construed to be part of your student record (e.g. GPA, classroom observances).

Complete the Letter of Reference and/or Verbal Recommendation Form and provide it to the faculty member or administrator. If you want grade or GPA information included in the letter, you must provide the letter writer with a copy of your transcript (can be an unofficial copy).