Jun 25, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

FERPA and Rights to Confidentiality

Equal Opportunity

Students are assured the protection of all rights guaranteed by the Montana and United States Constitutions. Montana Western is committed to provide all persons an equal opportunity for education, employment, and participation in University activities without regard to the individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, or handicap. The University has established a discrimination grievance procedure for any student or applicant for employment or admission who claims to have been unlawfully discriminated against because of any University regulation, policy, practice, or the official action of any University employee.

Students alleging discrimination at Montana Western are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office, (406) 683-7388, or the Affirmative Action Officer, Business Services, (406) 683-7101 and complete a Maxient report.

Disabilities: Students with disabilities seeking services from the University should notify the Dean of Students Office as soon as possible regarding their disability so that services and access can be determined in a timely fashion.

Understanding One’s Rights & Responsibilities

Students are responsible for making informed enrollment decisions and for understanding and complying with the material that details policies and standards of student conduct in this catalog and the Montana Western website. Students are also held responsible for complying with policies and procedures governing all aspects of enrollment at Montana Western including registration, grading, class schedule changes (dropping, adding, withdrawing), class or credit load, financial aid, enrollment and fee payment dates and deadlines, graduation requirements, for example.

Students are responsible for determining and communicating their education goals. Montana Western encourages students to provide this information when filing their admissions application or as soon as possible following their initial enrollment at UMW. Providing this information will aid University officials in assigning appropriate advisors and in helping students select courses that meet requirements for their education goal, make steady academic progress, and ultimately graduate in the shortest time possible.

Students are responsible for notifying the University regarding changes to their address and telephone information. Updates to this information may be submitted through DAWGS or by contacting the Registrar’s Office at (406) 683-7371.

Student Records & Release of Student Information

UMW maintains the following records pertaining to student enrollment:

Admissions Office–temporarily maintains admission-related records submitted by prospective students, including high school transcripts and/or high school equivalency reports, student immunization records, assessment test score reports, college transfer transcripts, application forms, financial statements of international students, and copies of I-20 forms. Records of admitted students are transferred to the Registrar’s Office during the student’s first term of enrollment. These records (proof of immunization, high school/college transcripts, ACT/SAT scores) become part of the student’s enrollment file maintained in the Registrar’s Office.

Business Services–maintains records of all charges assessed, amounts paid by and owed to UMW by current students, as well as information that indicates the authority by which Montana Western is able to charge for educational services rendered. Student work-study payroll records are filed in Business Services. Information on the student insurance program is available at Business Services and the Dean of Students Office. Business Services also maintains records pertaining to authorized campus parking and parking violations, and is responsible for ensuring that all federal, state, municipal, and UMW parking regulations are met.

Dean of Students Office–maintains records pertaining to special needs students (students with disabilities), records of student disciplinary matters, and records of campus counseling matters. Information on the student insurance program is available here.

Faculty Offices–faculty maintain records, subject to statute of limitations governing such records, relating to individual student achievement in courses they teach as well as copies of course syllabi and outlines of course requirements and expectations. Advisee records are also kept in faculty offices.

Financial Aid Office–maintains records submitted by students, prospective students, and parents of students/prospective students who apply to Montana Western for federal, state, local and institutional financial aid, and Veterans benefits. Copies of federal, state, Montana University System, and UMW policies and regulations governing the awarding and administration of financial aid programs are available for review by interested parties.

Registrar’s Office–maintains permanent academic records, files of academic-related information on each student, and copies of the information students submit as part of their initial application for admission to UMW, including proof of immunization. A complete text of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (FERPA) is available at the Registrar’s Office. Montana residency records and publications, NAIA and NIRA athletic eligibility information for Montana Western’s athletic team members, and summary enrollment information is also on file.

Residence Life Office & Bulldog Card Center-maintains housing records of students living on campus, Bulldog Card information and the implementation of New Student Orientation.

Third Party Requests for Enrollment Verification

The University of Montana Western (Federal School Code: 002537) has contracted with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) to provide enrollment verification information of current and former UMW students. Hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States have signed agreements with NSC to provide these services.

Requests for current and former UMW student enrollment verification information should be directed to the National Student Clearinghouse (see contact information below). This agency will provide the information needed. All third-party requests for enrollment verification information sent directly to UMW will be forwarded to the Clearinghouse. Student enrollment verifications may be written, faxed, e-mailed, called in, or mailed. Requests should include adequate student identification as well as specific time periods for which attendance/enrollment information is desired. Providing specific information will facilitate the enrollment verification process.

The Clearinghouse will only verify whether a specific student is or was enrolled. NSC is not able to provide student grade or grade point information. Also, the Clearinghouse is unable to verify enrollment of students who ask to have directory information blocked, according to the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). In such cases, the student must provide Montana Western with a specific written request for information release.

Students and/or third parties should direct questions regarding enrollment verification to the UMW Registrar’s Office, (406) 683-7371.

National Student Clearinghouse:

Address: 2191 Fox Mill Road, Suite 300
Herndon VA 20171-3019
Phone: (703) 742-4200, 8:30 am-5:15 pm EST
Fax: (703) 742-4239
Website: www.studentclearinghouse.org
E-mail: enrollmentverify@studentclearinghouse.org

FERPA–Records Release & the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974

Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended, all student records and information, except for certain designated “directory information” and the award of certain honors, are to be regarded as confidential and access restricted to the student and other authorized personnel. Confidential information may be released to others only by written permission of the person concerned or by subpoena issued by a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction. The student must be notified of any release of information by subpoena.

A student’s academic record or transcript may be released only when requested by the student in writing, or by applicable subpoena issued by a court or other tribunal of competent jurisdiction.

The law allows release of certain personally identifiable student information, known as “directory information,” to third parties without student consent. However, a student may request that all of the items identified as directory or public information, with the exception of name, be withheld and considered restricted information by filing a written request at the UMW Registrar’s Office. A request for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution and remain active on a semester-by-semester basis. Students must notify the institution of their desire for continued directory records restriction. The following items of student information are considered “directory information” and may be released to third parties:

  • Name, campus address, home and permanent address, telephone, email address.
  • Age, date, place of birth.
  • Name and address of parents.
  • Major field of study, including department or program in which the student is enrolled.
  • Classification as a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate student, etc.
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
  • High schools attended, high school graduation date.
  • Weight, height, and pictures of athletic team members.
  • Class schedules, dates of attendance and graduation, degrees received.
  • Honors and awards received.
  • The most recent educational institution attended by the student.
  • Individual student class schedules.
  • Photographs of students.

Release of directory information is handled with discretion. Use of this information for commercial solicitation purposes will generally be denied, with the exception under the Solomon Amendment that institutions are required to provide directory information to United States Military recruiting offices. Fees may be charged for gathering and printing student directory information.

FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expanded the circumstances under which student education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including Social Security Number, grades, or other private information—may be accessed without the student’s consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to the student’s records and pull without the student’s consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is principally engaged in the provision of education, such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to a student’s education records and PII without the student’s consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when the student objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive a student’s PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without the student’s consent PII for the student’s education records, and they may track the student’s participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about the student that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Exceptions to FERPA

The campus may release confidential student educational information and directory information to the following individuals or agencies without written consent:

  • UMW and other Montana University System personnel for legitimate educational purposes and to the extent required in the ordinary performance of their duties.
  • Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary of the Department of Education, an administrative head of an educational agency, or state educational authorities having access to student or other records that may be necessary in connection with the audit and evaluation of federally-supported education programs (provided that a collection of personally identifiable data is specifically authorized by federal law, any data collected by such officials with respect to individual students shall not include information, including Social Security Numbers, that would permit the personal identification of such students or their parents after the data so obtained has been collected).
  • In compliance with a judicial order or any lawfully issued subpoena, upon condition that the student is notified in advance of compliance.
  • In connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid.

The Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires higher education institutions to give timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees, make public their campus security policies, and collect, report, and disseminate crime data to the campus community and to the U.S. Department of Education. The act is intended to provide students and their families, as higher education consumers, with accurate, complete, and timely information about safety on campus to allow them to make informed decisions. Crime data for Montana Western is posted on the university website and is available from the Dean of Students Office. In addition, the Dean of Students Office posts timely warnings of crimes throughout campus.