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FERPA - Family Educational Privacy Act

FERPA Defined

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides current and former students with the right to inspect and review educational records, the right to seek to amend those records, the right to limit disclosure of information from the records and the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants or students may also waive their rights to inspect confidential letters or statements of recommendation.

Release of Information

Obtaining your information
Students wishing to receive FERPA protected information over the telephone must set up a question/answer in BearPAWS under Call In Authentication.  You will be required to answer your security question when calling One Stop, Graduate and Continuing Education, The Student Success Center, and other offices as applicable.

To replace your question/answer for call in authentication, please follow these steps:

  1. Log into BearPAWS
  2. Click on Personal Information
  3. Click on Student Call In Authentication
  4. Select question, enter answer and click “Submit”

Sharing your information via BearPAWS
Students wishing to share information available on BearPAWS should use Web For Proxy.  Additional information can be found here.

3rd Party Release of Information
The FERPA Information Release form (PDF) must be completed by the student and submitted to the secure One Stop file drop location if you would like your records disclosed to a 3rd party such as prospective employer, attorney, etc.  By provision of this document the student is granting permission for the records to be released.

Requesting Mental Health and Medical Records
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), treatment records, by definition, are only available to professionals and paraprofessionals providing treatment to the student, or to physicians or other appropriate professionals of the student’s choice.

Treatment records are defined as records on a student who is eighteen years of age or older, or is attending an institution of postsecondary education, that are: (1) made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity; (2) made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student; and (3) disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment.  

If you are requesting these records to be provided to an appropriate health provider, please contact the College Counseling Center at (315) 267-2330 and they will assist you in filling out the appropriate release of information which is required.

Directory Information

College officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about a student nor permit inspection of their records without the student's written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by FERPA. Under the provisions of the Act, a college may disclose information about a student if it has designated that the information is "Directory Information." SUNY Potsdam has designated the following as Directory Information:

  • student's name
  • date and place of birth
  • address
  • telephone number
  • email address
  • previous institution(s) attended
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status (full/part time)
  • expected date of graduation
  • class standing
  • major field of study
  • academic honors or awards received
  • past and present participation in officially recognized sports or activities
  • physical factors (height, weight of athletes)
  • degrees conferred (including dates)
  • photographs

College Official

In accordance with FERPA, the student's consent is not required when a college official has a legitimate educational interest in the student's educational record; that is, if the official needs to review this information in order to fulfill their professional responsibility. However, this does not constitute authorization to share that information with a third party without the student's written consent. A "college official" is: a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including Campus Police and Student Health); a person or company with whom the College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or accrediting agent); a person employed by SUNY System Administration; a person serving on the College Council; or a student serving on an official committee, or assisting another college official in performing their tasks.