FERPA Annual Notice

Annual Notification of Student Rights under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) 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 at any age.) (WAC 516-26) These rights include:

1. The right to review and inspect education records.  An eligible student has the right to inspect and review the student’s own education records within 45 days after the day Western Washington University (the “University”) receives a request for access.  A student may submit a written request to the University official who maintains the record(s), identifying the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.

2. The right to request an amendment of the education record. An eligible student has the right to seek amendment of their education records that the student believes to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.  This process cannot be used to challenge grades.

  • A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write to the Registrar, clearly identifying the part of the record the student wants changed and specifying why they believe it should be changed.
  • The university will, within a reasonable time after receiving the request, decide whether to amend the record as requested.
  • If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of (1) the decision, (2) the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment, (3) information about the hearing procedures, and (4) the student’s right to insert in the record a written statement or explanation commenting on the information.

3. The right to provide written consent before personally identifiable information is disclosed, except when FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  An eligible student has the right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  (WAC 516-26-080 and WAC 516-26-085)

The University may, and from time to time does, disclose education records without a student’s prior written consent when authorized by FERPA, including to university officials whom the University has determined to have legitimate educational purpose.  Western defines “university officials” and “legitimate educational purpose” as follows:

  • “University officials” include (a) individuals employed by Western in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or clerical or support staff position (including but not limited to law enforcement unit personnel, attorneys, counselors, and health staff); (b) individuals serving on the board of trustees; or (c) individuals (including students) serving on an official university committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee.
  • A university official also may include a volunteer, contractor, consultant or other party outside of Western (1) who performs an institutional service or function for which the university would otherwise use its own employees, and (2) who is under the direct control of the university with respect to the use and maintenance of education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another university official in performing their tasks.
  • “Legitimate educational purpose” is present when the information is needed to perform a task or engage in an activity within the scope of the recipient’s official responsibilities with the university.  The information can be used only in connection with the performance of those responsibilities.  

4. The right to file a complaint.  An eligible student has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Western to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Student Privacy Policy Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20202

When does FERPA permit disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) without student consent?

FERPA permits the disclosure of PII 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 university officials (as defined above), 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. 

The University may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of an eligible student —

  • To other university officials whom the University has determined to have legitimate educational interests, as described above under paragraph 3. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the University has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that certain conditions are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
  • To officials of another university 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 PII 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 certain state and local officials or authorities when authorized by state statute in certain cases.  (§99.31(a)(5))
  • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the University, 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))
  • When it is information the University has designated as “directory information” under §99.37 (see section on Requests to Restrict Directory Information).  (§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 University 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 University’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against them. (§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 University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the University determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))
  • The disclosure concerns sex offenders and other individuals required to register under section 17010 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

Directory Information

Directory information (WAC 516-26-090) at Western Washington University is defined as:

  • student’s name
  • institutionally provided email address
  • major field of study
  • date and term of graduation
  • mailing address
  • local telephone number
  • dates of attendance
  • degrees and awards received
  • participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  • weight and height, if a member of an athletic team
  • most recent previous educational institution attended

FERPA allows the University to release a student’s directory information unless the student elects to restrict that release through Web4U. That election can be changed at any time.

Restricting the Release of Directory Information

While attending Western, students may request to restrict the release of their directory information except to university officials for a legitimate educational purpose. This restriction will remain in place until the student requests to remove it, even after the student graduates or otherwise leaves the University.
Students should carefully consider the impact of restricting the release of directory information prior to opting out. If directory information is restricted, potential employers may not be able to verify enrollment or degree(s) earned from the University. The University cannot publish academic honors and awards received or publish a student’s name and graduation in a commencement program. For these and other reasons, many students choose to allow the sharing of directory information.

Students who do not wish to authorize the release of directory information and do not want their directory information to appear in institutional directories must inform the Registrar by opting out of the release of directory information in Web4U:

  1. Log in to Web4U.
  2. From the Student menu select Student Records and navigate to "Release of Directory Information."
  3. Select Yes to restrict the release of directory information.

Change Release Restriction 

At any time after opting to restrict the release of directory information, students may change their mind and authorize the University to release directory information and for it to appear in institutional directories. Students can grant such authorization by following the same procedures outlined above through Web4U.

Report a Violation

If you believe that your personally identifiable information has been released in violation of FERPA (whether accidentally or not), please report the incident. To report a FERPA violation or accidental release of student data, please email FERPA@wwu.edu. Within the subject line, include the phrase “potential FERPA violation”. In that email, please describe the incident and provide your name and student W#.  Questions about FERPA can also be directed to this email address.