Skip to main content

Privacy and FERPA

FERPA and Campus Privacy Practices

Confidentiality of information is a top priority at Augustana. This emphasis on protecting information is to comply with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and to protect student and employee privacy through our own institutional policies. Protected information addressed by law and our policies applies not only to currently enrolled students, but also to in-coming first-year and transfer students, former students, graduates, alumni and Augustana employees. The college-specific policies as they relate to the federal law (FERPA) and directory information is in the student handbook

Many employees will come into contact with protected and private information in the course of their job duties. Some of these records include grades, transcripts, test scores, evaluations, resumes, letters of recommendation, salary offers or ranges, financial information, billing records, as well as personal notes and messages to or about students or employees. Although every effort will be made to limit such contact, it is inevitable.

Files or other materials containing protected information may be accessed by an employee only when the duties of their job require it during the course of official college business. New employees will be trained within their office or department by a qualified staff member regarding what information may be accessed, what if any information may be provided to third parties and what information may not be shared. In addition, as a condition of employment, all employees are required to take an on-line privacy training at the time they are hired and then once every three years.

The release of records to any third party requires an original written signature included in the request or secure login authentication through a college-provided Arches account. We do not accept electronic or proxy signatures.

Privacy Training for Employees

This required training can be completed during a date and time that is convenient for the employee and should take approximately 35 minutes. Once completed, a database will make a record that you have completed the required training. The training needs to be completed in one session, so be sure you are able to dedicate the time to finish it all in one sitting.

College employees should contact the Human Resources Office to complete or renew privacy training

Student employees should complete the training through CORE.

Privacy Waiver for Release of Records

The privacy waiver may be signed by a student with a wet signature at any time. E-signatures and proxy signatures are not accepted. Once a completed form is submitted, the record of the form will be stored in the Colleague database with the parameters of the release and the pass code. Validating a signature is authentic may take additional time if the form is not signed in the presence of a FERPA-trained employee and therefore may not be entered into the system until proper checks have been completed.  

The Augustana privacy waiver does not grant a third party unlimited access to a student record. Further, it does not grant the third party the ability to release the student record. Third party access without a release is only granted under a power of attorney explicitly stating access to educational records or through a lawfully issued subpoena. College legal counsel will be involved in all subpoenas. 

The waiver allows the designated college employee and/or office the ability to communicate with a third party if the college determines it is appropriate and in the best educational interests of the student. The FERPA law explicitly notes this waiver MAY provide access to records, it does not indicate the college MUST release or provide information about a student record. Under no circumstances does the college email individual student grade reports to third parties. A legal release of the student grade record (transcript) requires a legal release each time. At Augustana, this release may happen by a transcript request made through secure login to Arches by current students (no charge) or alumni (small fee) or by visiting the Office of the Registrar in Founders Hall to complete a form in person (hard copy forms require a fee). See Transcripts for fees, policies and procedures. 

We discourage individual faculty from communicating directly with parents or third parties. The responsibility for communicating information about individual grades in Moodle or progress on assignments to third parties rests with the student. If a third party has a concern about a student and a privacy waiver has been completed, we encourage that individual to work with the Dean of Students Office and Academic Affairs to coordinate communication about the concern. 

The privacy waiver may also be rescinded by the student at anytime.  For more detailed information on the federal law please visit the governmental FERPA website and the Student Handbook for college policies on FERPA.