Course Catalog

Access to Student Records (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level; unless the parent can show proof the student is still a dependent. Dependent student status for FERPA is usually verified with a copy of the parent’s most recent federal tax return proving the student was claimed as a dependent for that tax year. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.” Faculty and staff who have “legitimate educational interest” in the student’s records are also permitted access.

Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. The college is not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. A fee may be charged for copies.

Applicants who never enroll in a regular program of study do not have the same right of access to their educational records as enrolled students.

Parents or eligible students have the right to request that WGTC correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the college decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, county of residence, city of residence, enrollment status (full or part time), major and field of study, degrees and awards, and dates of attendance. Students have an opportunity to prevent this directory information from being released by submitting an Objection to Release of Directory Information by request to the Office of the Registrar, except in cases where the record has been subpoenaed.

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College will abide by the following guidelines concerning student records:

  • Inform students and parents of students annually of their rights concerning records kept by WGTC;
  • Allow parents and spouses of students who have the written permission of their children or spouses access to the educational records of their children/spouses;
  • Non-disclosure of personally identifiable information from the educational record of a student without the prior written consent of the student; and
  • Maintain a record of disclosure to outside agencies of personally identifiable information from the educational records of the student.

Typically, the following information will be kept by the Registrar or Enrollment Management personnel and will remain in the student’s academic file:

  • The original application for admission;
  • Official notice of admission;
  • Secondary and postsecondary official transcripts;
  • Evaluation of transfer credits;
  • The official academic transcript;
  • Application for graduation and/or degree;
  • Memoranda or correspondence pertaining to:

— Registration form;
— Grades, grade changes, explanations, and special course descriptions;
— Official Drop/Add/Withdrawals;
— Issues or problems investigated by WGTC; and
— Special honors.

While students and parents of dependent students will have access to the information listed above, there are some records kept by WGTC that students and parents will not have access to. These include:

  • Law enforcement records;
  • Job placement or employment records;
  • Financial information submitted by parents;
  • Confidential letters and recommendations related to admissions;
  • Honors to which the students have waived their rights of inspection.

As a general rule, all academic files are kept for five years after graduation, withdrawal, or suspension of the student, with the exception of the official transcript, which is kept indefinitely. As technology and governing regulations allow, particular documents and files may be stored electronically and in off-campus locations.