FERPA Information

What is FERPA?

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), 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 protects the privacy of student educational records and affords students the right to refuse to permit New Mexico Tech (and other educational institutions) from releasing or disclosing any information about them.

Students have three fundamental rights under FERPA:

Who is responsible for FERPA?

Educational institutions are required to develop policies for implementing appropriate provisions of FERPA. At NMT, the Registrar is the steward of all current and former enrolled student academic records and has been delegated the responsibility to ensure that information from education records is released only to those individuals and agencies that:

At the federal level, the responsibility for administering FERPA has been assigned to the Family Compliance Office within the Department of Education.

To whom does FERPA apply?

At New Mexico Tech, FERPA applies to the education records of:

A student’s FERPA rights begin on their first day of class at New Mexico Tech.

What is an education record?

“Education records” mean records that are maintained by New Mexico Tech in any form or format (e.g. paper, electronic, digital image, film, video, audio tape), which contain information directly related to a student and are personally identifiable to a student. Education records do not include:

What are the rights of students?

  1. If you are a currently enrolled student or former student, you may inspect your educational records by submitting an official request and obtaining an appointment to do so.  
  2. You may challenge inaccuracies or misleading items.  However, you may not challenge the fairness of a grade under this provision.
  3. Your record is not released without your written consent except to New Mexico Tech school officials with a legitimate educational interest.  School officials are agents of the school in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position; members of school committees, boards and/or councils; and persons under contract to the school to perform a specific task, such as an attorney or auditor.  School officials have a legitimate educational interest in accessing or reviewing a student’s educational records if they are:  

Other exceptions are to comply with a judicial order, or in an emergency involving the health or safety of a student or other person.  

  1. When a record is released, the recipient is notified by NM Tech that the record may not be released to a third party. 
  2. With the exception of disclosures to school officials, a record is kept of disclosures of personally identifiable information for which the student has not given written consent. 

When can a student’s education records be disclosed without the student’s consent?

The general rule is that NMT may not disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s education records to a third party unless the student has provided written consent. However, there are several exceptions which may permit the school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent. Some of the more commonly invoked exceptions are described below:

Student directory information

One exception permits the school to disclose a student’s personally identifiable information when the information is properly designated as “directory information.” Directory information is information that would not generally be considered harmful nor an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At New Mexico Tech, student directory information is defined as:

You have the right to withhold the disclosure of directory information.  Any requests for such information from non-Tech persons or organizations will be refused. NM Tech will honor your request to withhold directory information but cannot assume responsibility to contact you for subsequent permission to release it. Regardless of the effect upon you, NM Tech assumes no liability for honoring your instructions that directory information be withheld.  Should you wish for your directory information to be withheld, please complete the following form and return it to the Registrar’s Office.

Request to Withhold Directory Information

Release to school officials

A second exception is that the school may release personally identifiable information from student education records without the student’s consent to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest to access the records. FERPA rights do not supersede the financial obligation of a student, former student or alumnus to NMT. Requests for official transcripts will be withheld until all financial obligations are paid. “School official” means:

“Legitimate educational interest,” means the school official is performing an authorized task or an activity within their scope of authority on behalf of NMT, and access to an educational record is necessary or appropriate to fulfill the school official’s professional responsibilities for the school.

Additional exceptions

FERPA contains some additional exceptions, including, but not limited to, those listed below. FERPA rights do not supersede the financial obligation of a student, former student or alumnus to NMT. Requests for official transcripts will be withheld until all financial obligations are paid. Depending upon the exception, the institution may be required to make a reasonable attempt to notify the student in advance when educational records are sought (e.g. subpoenas) and/or to permanently notate in the educational record the details relating to a nonconsensual disclosure permitted by an exception.

Information Protection

Additionally, until repealed or amended, guidance relating to administrative, technical and physical security of data is identified in the Written Information Security & Privacy Policy.

What should I do if I become aware of a FERPA violation?

If you inadvertently disclose protected student data, or suspect someone else has, you should immediately email registrar@nmt.edu and provide a description of the situation.