Letters and Annual Notifications
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
Dear SMU Student and Parent:
In support of our university mission to offer students the necessary tools and information to ensure their success inside and outside the classroom, I am writing to provide you with important information regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which affects the release of student education records to third parties, including parents.
The release of student education records by a college or university to a third party, other than a university department or official, is generally prohibited without the student’s written permission. There are limited circumstances under which student education records may be released to a third party without the student’s written permission, and those are outlined in detail in SMU’s FERPA Policy, which may be accessed online at www.smu.edu/LegalDisclosures/FERPA. This letter tells how permission can be given and why it should be considered seriously by students in discussion with their parents.
Protected elements of education records include, but are not limited to, test scores, grade point averages, disciplinary information and financial data. Many students want to give parents or family members access to these records so that they can work in partnership in advancing the student’s well-being and academic progress. Discussions between students and parents about the information contained in a student’s education records can encourage students to use the academic, counseling and other services that can help them reach their academic and personal goals.
Students and parents should be aware that FERPA does allow colleges and universities to provide information to parents and guardians regarding the use or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs if the student is under the age of 21, without obtaining the student’s written permission. This exception is critical to encourage parents and students to work together in addressing substance use and abuse issues.
To facilitate the sharing of information, SMU offers an easy method for students to grant permission and for parents to access education records online at my.SMU, the University’s student information system. Students use my.SMU to check grades and tuition balances and update their contact information, among other services. Through the Release of Education Records feature in the self-service component of my.SMU, students can provide their consent for their parents to view some or all elements of their education records. The student’s authorization takes effect immediately and remains in effect until the student revokes it or until it expires one year after the student’s last enrollment date at SMU.
Once authorization is granted, parents will have confidential access to view records in my.SMU, such as unofficial transcripts, financial aid information and tuition balances. To view other records after authorization is granted – including degree progress, academic advising and judicial records – parents must contact the particular office holding the records.
Contact information for departments and offices holding the records can be found on the University Registrar’s Web site – www.smu.edu/LegalDisclosures/FERPA – in the Education Records section. Parents and students also can find step-by-step instructions for releasing and viewing records on the Web site, along with more information about FERPA.
The University Registrar’s Office also continues to welcome questions or comments about FERPA by phone at 214-768-3417 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage parents and students to use this online service, which we hope will be helpful in fostering communication that facilitates a rewarding and successful educational experience for our students.
K.C. Mmeje, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
PO Box 750471
Dallas, TX 75275
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
Dear SMU Student,
SMU is committed to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of your education records. Therefore, as an annual notification we want to give you a brief summary of your rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that governs the release of and access to your education records. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review education records within a reasonable time after the University receives a request for access. A list of offices that maintain education records can be found at: http://www.smu.edu/LegalDisclosures/FERPA/EduRecords
- The right to request an amendment to your education records if you believe they are inaccurate or misleading by submitting a written request to the University office maintaining that record, clearly identifying the part of the record you want changed, and specifying why it is inaccurate or misleading.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. In general, no personally identifiable information from your education records will be disclosed to any third party without your written consent. Several exceptions exist, including these selected examples:
a) Disclosure to SMU officials with “legitimate educational interests”. (For the definition of an “SMU Official”, click here). An SMU official has a legitimate educational interest if they need to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities for the University.
b) Information may be released to a parent or guardian if the student is declared financially dependent upon the parent or guardian as set forth in the Internal Revenue Code.
c) Information defined by SMU as directory information may be released unless you submit your written request that it be withheld to the University Registrar through my.SMU Self Service. SMU's definition of directory information includes:
- Personal data: student’s name, address (home & mailing), telephone (home & mailing), SMU assigned e-mail address
- Enrollment data: academic program (school of record, degree objectives, majors, minors, expected graduation date), academic level (classification), current enrollment status (full, half, part-time, etc.), attendance dates, degrees and awards received, previous education including all past schools and/or institutions attended
- Participation data: participation in University recognized activities and sports, athlete’s weight and height
More information on directory information and what happens when a student requests to restrict the release of his/her information is available at http://www.smu.edu/LegalDisclosures/FERPA/Directory
d) Disclosure of education records to officials at other schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
4. If you have a concern or question you should contact the University Registrar or the Office of Legal Affairs. You also have the right to file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by SMU to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
SMU offers an easy method for you to grant permission to your parents and others to access your on-line and manual education records. Through the Release of Education Records feature in the self-service component of my.SMU, you can provide your consent for your parents or others to have access to some or all elements of your education records.
For more information on FERPA and SMU’s FERPA policy visit the University Registrar’s FERPA website at http://www.smu.edu/LegalDisclosures/FERPA. Questions concerning FERPA should be referred to the University Registrar’s Office, Laura Lee Blanton Building, 6185 Airline Rd., Dallas, TX, by Tel: (214) 768-3417 or by e-mail at email@example.com