FERPA - Financial Aid Office
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C., 1232 g; 34CFR 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 records by requiring prior written consent before disclosing personally identifiable information to a third party.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.
Records created and maintained by the GCC Financial Aid Office are considered to be education records and may not be disclosed without the student's consent. This includes at least all of the following records:
- records relating to eligibility and disbursement of federal student aid funds;
- student account information;
- Federal Work-Study payroll records;
- financial aid applications;
- SAR's and ISIR's;
- documentation of professional judgment decisions;
- documentation relating to a refusal to certify Federal education loans;
- financial aid history information;
- cost of attendance information, including documentation related to any adjustments;
- satisfactory academic progress documentation;
- documents used for verification;
- entrance and exit counseling records and
- financial records.
All documents are maintained in hardcopy.
Educational records include any materials received from the student and/or parents. It also includes any records that were used to make any decisions about the students. Only those records that are directly related to the student are considered to be educational records.
Right to Review Records
GCC will disclose the student's financial aid record to the parents if the student is a dependent according to IRS rules (i.e. claimed as a dependent on the parents' income tax return, per IRS Section 152). This information will only be disclosed to the custodial parent unless written consent is provided by the student and the custodial parent to release the information to other parties. GCC does not allow a student to review the records of other individuals unless these individuals have provided written consent. This includes the parent's information.
If the student is not claimed as a dependent by his or her parents, the parents do not have the right to review the student's financial aid records, not even if they pay the tuition bills.
If a divorce decree, separation agreement, custody agreement, restraining order, or other legally binding agreement or court order revokes a parent's right to see the student's record, GCC will not disclose the record to that parent.
The student's spouse or ex-spouse does not have the right to review the student's financial aid record.
Exceptions to Consent
Disclosure of financial aid records to the following parties without consent is permitted under the "need to know" provision:
- authorized representatives of the U.S. Department of Education as well as state and local education authorities;
- school officials with legitimate educational interest. GCC will not disclose information in the student's financial aid records to the Foundation Office;
- other schools to which a student is transferring;
- specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- appropriate officials in the case of health and safety emergencies. The threat must be imminent and the disclosure must be narrowly tailored to the nature of the emergency;
- to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. All such requests will be turned over to GCC's attorney before disclosure is made;
- accrediting organizations; and
- appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student.