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Privacy Information

Student records are protected by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, which stipulates that colleges and universities cannot release a student’s records to any third party (including parents) without the student’s written consent. Parents who wish to access their child’s Cornell records must ask the child to complete a written waiver releasing his or her information. Students may request an official release of their records or restrict access to their official records by contacting the Cornell Engineering Registrar’s Office

FERPA regulations control: 

  • How the university manages student records
  • Who has access to student records
  • Why access to student records can be granted 

The act also: 

  • Permits the university to release limited directory information without a student’s consent (name, address, phone number, and e-mail)
  • Guarantees students access to their records and allows them to restrict access by others 

Visit the Cornell Office of the University Registrar (OUR) Web site for further guidelines regarding the use of student data. 

Cornell University also has its own regulations regarding access to student records. Please review Cornell’s policy statement for more information: Cornell University Policy 4.5

Questions about the University’s interpretation of the FERPA guidelines should be referred to the University’s General Counsel: The Office of University Counsel

Privacy Info FAQ 

What are student records?
Records maintained by Cornell University or another group acting for Cornell University include, but are not limited to: transcripts (grades), exam papers, test scores, evaluations, financial aid records, and loan collection records. 

What aren’t student records?

  • Admissions records
  • Alumni records
  • Personnel/employment records
  • Police records
  • Psychological services/medical records
  • Personal records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel that:
    • Are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record
    • Are not accessible or revealed to any other individual

What can be disclosed to the student?
We can disclose almost every part of your own student record including, but not limited to transcripts (grades), exam papers, test scores, evaluations, financial aid records, and loan collection records. 

Are students prohibited from accessing certain of their own student records?
Yes. Students are not allowed access to: 

  • Financial statements of parents/guardians
  • Confidential statements to which the student has waived access rights
  • Records containing information about another student 

What can be disclosed to third parties (including parents and spouses)?
Student record information falls into two general categories: 

  1. Public information, to which parents have access
  2. Confidential information, to which third parties may have access only if the student signs an appropriate written authorization. 

What information is considered to be public information at Cornell University?
Directory (public) information may be obtained without prior authorization. Each department, school, college, office, program, or entity that maintains records is required to give public notice of the categories of information designated as directory information. These units are not required to include all of the following but may not designate as directory information anything more than: 

  • Student’s name
  • Addresses (local/permanent/e-mail)
  • Telephone numbers
  • Date and place of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Number of units in which enrolled
  • Major field of study
  • Last school attended
  • Degrees and honors received
  • Participation in official student activities
  • Name, weight, and height of intercollegiate athletic team members

What information is considered to be confidential information at Cornell University?
Everything that is not included in the list of "directory information" is considered confidential. Policies also permit students to have the university treat directory information as confidential, so third parties’ access to the above information may be limited if a student so requests.

FAQ: Parents and Spouses

When does my son/daughter/spouse officially become a student?
Once an admitted applicant submits a deposit to Cornell University, s/he is considered a student whose records are subject to privacy protections governed by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Cornell University campus policies implementing these regulations. Before the student submits a deposit, his or her records are subject to different privacy protections under the Information Privacy Act.

My son/daughter is a minor and I pay all of his/her bills. Does this give me a right to access the student records of my child?
No. The university considers your son/daughter an adult, regardless of age or financial dependence.

Which student records can a parent or spouse obtain without prior authorization?
Public information may be obtained by a parent or spouse without prior authorization.

What constitutes an appropriate written authorization/waiver of confidentiality?
Your son, daughter, or spouse must provide a signed letter to the Cornell Engineering Registrar’s Office, which maintains the sought-after record, expressly permitting your review of his or her student record and specifying the length of time for which access is granted.

What if a parent or spouse needs access to a student’s record as a result of a health or safety emergency?
Requests should be directed to the Cornell University Police Department, 607-255-1111, with a description of the nature of the emergency and the need to contact the student. At the discretion of the police and the Office of the Registrar, disclosure of a limited amount of information may be made to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency when the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other persons.

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