Academic Policies

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Buckley Amendment (FERPA)

Annual Notification of FERPA Rights:

    To comply with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (as amended), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will not release education records or personally identifiable information contained therein, other than directory information, without the student's written consent.

    Directory information at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University includes:

  • student's name
  • local and permanent address(es)
  • telephone number(s)
  • major field of study (including second majors, minors, etc.)
  • whether a student is currently enrolled
  • enrollment status (full-time, half-time, etc.)
  • class (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • academic level (associate, undergraduate, graduate, professional)
  • anticipated date of graduation
  • certification of application for degree
  • dates of enrollment
  • degree(s) earned, including date, honors and level of distinction
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD)

    Directory information will be withheld upon the written request of the student. Such prohibition against release generally does not extend to record requests from other school officials at this institution who have an educational need to know, state and federal education authorities, courts or accrediting organizations. Questions concerning this policy may be referred to the Office of the University Registrar.

FERPA Disclosure

    Due to the laws covering confidentiality, it is a violation of the regulations for anyone to release non-directory information (grades, course enrollment, class schedule, standing) about any student to anyone without permission from the student. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires the student to authorize the university prior to release of any academic record information to a third party. Completion of the online form (Hokie SPA) allows the student to approve disclosure of his/her academic record information to parent(s) and/or guardian(s) via an assigned “Pass Code”. University officials must request the pass code prior to the release of any requested information. The disclosure will remain valid until the student removes the authorization.

    Tax Dependent? The Commonwealth of Virginia requires Virginia's colleges and universities to release academic record information to parents of tax dependent students. This requirement is allowable within the guidelines of FERPA. If the student is a tax dependent of his/her parent or guardian, please denote that information by checking "YES" in the question column, "Are you a Tax Dependent?" on the online FERPA disclosure form (Hokie SPA). Students are informed of any release of information prior to disclosure.

Notification of Rights under FERPA

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include the following:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. Students must submit to the Office of the University Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The university official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the University official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. They should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify what is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the University will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests or concerns of health and safety. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisor, academic or research, or support staff position (such as health staff); a person or company with whom the university has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Visitors; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Virginia Tech to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202-5920
    Students may also file a complaint with the University Registrar:

      Wanda Hankins Dean
      250 Student Services Building
      Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0134
      (540) 231-7951

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act indicates that students and former students should be granted the opportunity to change their names on education records upon the production of evidence showing that the name has changed. The following procedure applies to requests for changes to the name appearing on a student's education record:

  • Complete Request for Change in Name form in the Office of the University Registrar
  • Provide a photocopy of a Social Security card that reflects the new name and a valid drivers license or other form of photo identification
  • Provide a photocopy of a birth certificate, marriage certificate or license, divorce decree, court order, or naturalization papers including certificate number, petition number, and registration number

    Please note that all documentation used in support of this request should reflect the name for which you are requesting the change.

    The Privacy Act of 1974 (U.S. Public Law 93-579, Sect. 7) requires that the university notify students that disclosure of a Social Security number is voluntary unless employed by the university or receiving federal financial aid. Pursuant to the 2003 State Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia, no student identification card may display the social security number as an identifier. Effective with students entering Fall 2003 and beyond, a generated identification number will be utilized as the default unique identifier. This generated number will be nine digits in length and will begin with the number, "9", nine. The generated student identification is defined as personally identifiable information by federal legislation, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) (U.S. Public Law 93-579, Sect. 7), and is prohibited from disclosure except to education officials with legitimate educational interest.

    For students who entered Virginia Tech prior to Fall 2003, the social security number was the default student identification number. Effective with the entering class of Fall 2003, a nine digit generated identifier is assigned to each student. Use this identifier when the student identification number is requested by a university official. Important note: disclosure of the social security number may be required by different university offices if required by the Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia or Federal statute.

Required Demographic Information

    Virginia Tech policy requires annually the collection of specific demographic data for each student: local mailing address, emergency contact entry or emergency contact confirmation, VT Alerts Opt In or Opt Out action, and review of the Virginia Tech Student Conduct Policy. Students will be prohibited from registration until the information is provided.

Missing Person Contact

    Student(s) may denote a specific third party as emergency contact as primary in cases of missing person(s). Visit Hokie SPA, choose the Hokie Plus menu, add 'new emergency contact'. In the pull down selection for relationships, choose "Missing Persons Contact". In case of such an emergency, the University will first contact the missing person designee before any alternate emergency contact(s).

Virginia Tech policy requires annually the collection of specific demographic data for each student: emergency contact entry or emergency contact confirmation, and VT Alerts Opt In or Opt Out action. Students will be prohibited from registration until the information is provided.