Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Roger Williams University complies with the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 which affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records.  (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.)  FERPA regulates a wide range of privacy-related activities, including:

  • Management of student’s education records maintained by Roger Williams University.
  • Management of who has access to student education records.
  • Management of for which purposes access to student records is granted.

FERPA also:

  • Permits Roger Williams University to release limited directory information without a student's consent.
  • Guarantees students access to their education records.
  • Allows students to restrict access to their education records.

For additional information regarding access to education records, please contact the Registrar’s Office.

To learn more about FERPA, please visit the .


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

Roger Williams University complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which governs access and release of information from student education records. This statute, in part;

  • Permits students to inspect their education records upon written request
  • Provides students the opportunity to request amendment to such records as inaccurate or misleading by writing to the official responsible for the record, identifying the part of the record requested to be changed, and specifying why it is inaccurate or misleading
  • Requires student written consent prior to disclosure of non-directory information such as grades and class schedules to persons outside of Roger Williams University (including parents, unless proof of financial dependency has been established).
  • Under FERPA, institutions may disclose information about a student without the student’s prior consent if the information has designated as “Directory Information”.

At Roger Williams University, Directory Information includes:

  • Student Name
  • Local Address 
  • Local Telephone Numbers
  • Classification
  • Honors and Awards Received
  • Photograph 
  • Dates and/or Verification of  Attendance
  • E-mail Address
  • Verification of Graduation and Degree(s)  Received
  • Expected Date of Graduation
  • Participation in Officially Recognized  Activities and Sports
  • Degree Program
  • Weight and Height of Members of    Athletics Teams  
  • Major Area of Study
  • Most Recent Previous Educational  Institution Attended
  • Enrollment Status

Other information is designated as restricted. In most cases, such information will not be released to a third party without written release from the student specifying which records are to be released, and to whom. 

Requests to limit disclosure of directory information (and to rescind previously filed requests to limit disclosure) must be filed in the Office of the Registrar.

The complete Roger Williams University policy on access to and release of student information is available in the Office of the Registrar.

Directory information is considered to be public information unless a student provides a written request that it be kept  confidential. Directory Information includes:

  • Student's name
  • Local Telephone Number
  • Honors and Awards Received
  • Dates and/or Verification of  Attendance
  • Participation in Officially Recognized Activities and Sports
  • Weight and Height of Members of Athletic Teams
  • Most Recent Previous Educational Institution Attended
  • Local Address
  • Classification
  • Photograph
  • E-mail Address
  • Expected Date of Graduation
  • Degree Program
  • Major Area of Study
  • Enrollment Status

Non-directory information is personally-identifiable information contained in a student’s education record that is not specifically listed as directory information.  Roger Williams University will not release non-directory information from a student’s education record in the absence of the student’s written permission.

Under FERPA, however, prior student consent is not required for disclosure of education records to certain individuals and entities, including, but not limited to, school officials who have been determined to have a legitimate educational interest and who need to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibility (including contractors, consultants, volunteers or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional functions or services); officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll or where the student is already enrolled if disclosures is related to the student’s enrollment or transfer; authorized representatives of U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local educational authorities; in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received; to accrediting organizations; to parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes; to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; and to appropriate officials in connection with a health and safety emergency, among others. Exceptions are noted in Roger Williams University’s annual notification of FERPA rights.

Examples of private information include, but are not limited to:

  • Social Security number
  • Grades
  • Hours completed
  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • Current class schedule
  • Parent name and address
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Country of citizenship
  • Religious affiliation
  • Disciplinary status
  • Marital status
  • Test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)

To file a complaint regarding your FERPA rights, you may contact the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202.

When do the student FERPA rights begin?

According to FERPA, a person becomes a student for purposes of FERPA when they are "in attendance" at an institution. In attendance means a student is officially registered for at least one class and that class has started.

What is a Student?

One who is, or has been, officially registered, and who attends, or has attended, classes at Roger Williams University regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency. Deceased students do not come under FERPA guidelines.

What is Personally Identifiable Information?

A student’s name, the name of the student’s parent or other family member, the address of the student or the student’s family, or other information that would allow the student to be identified.

How are requests for the education records of deceased students handled?

Roger Williams University’s policy does not allow for the release of a deceased student’s records. Written requests for exceptions must be submitted to the University Registrar.

Can I call University officials to find out how my son or daughter is doing?

Students have primary responsibility for keeping parents informed about their progress at Roger William’s University. This policy reflects the University’s view that students should be treated as responsible adults and that our practices should promote each student’s growth and independence.

What if my son or daughter is a minor?

Roger William’s University policy regarding communication with parents applies equally to students who are minors. Rights under FERPA transfer to the student, regardless of age, upon his or her matriculation into an undergraduate program at a college or university.

What if my son or daughter has not provided Consent to Disclosure?

If the student has not provided Consent to Disclosure, we will not communicate with parents about the topics above. If you would like to receive such communications, please ask your son or daughter to provide consent.

My child is a minor and is taking classes at Roger Williams University while still in high school – do I have rights?

If a student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information about that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school.

May a postsecondary institution disclose to a parent, without the student’s consent, information regarding a student’s violation of the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance?

Yes, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure. FERPA was amended in 1998 to allow such disclosures. See § 99.31(a)(15) of the FERPA regulations. Also, if the student is a “dependent student” as defined in FERPA, the institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of the student.

The local police, FBI, or a representative of a government agency call requesting a student's class schedule. Can they obtain that information?

Class schedules are not directory information and may not be released. FERPA restrictions apply equally to law enforcement officials. Do not release the class schedule; refer the caller to the Registrar's Office.

The FBI or a representative from another federal agency informs Roger Williams University that they need information about a student under the new anti-terrorism legislation. Can they obtain that information?

The USA PATRIOT Act (2001) and other legislation specify guidelines for release of information. Refer all such inquiries to the Registrar's Office so that we can ensure appropriate compliance.

Questions related to FERPA should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

Administration Building
One Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809-2921
Phone: (401) 254-3510
Fax: (401) 254-3363
E-mail: registrar@rwu.edu

To learn more information on FERPA, please visit: