Education Records

Content

Harvard College maintains information about a student’s work and progress at the College for two fundamental reasons: to aid officers of the University in advising and guiding the student toward completion of the degree and to serve as an historical record of the student’s work and activity at the College. The information includes routine records such as permanent and College addresses, admissions records, enrollment status, course reports, completion of requirements and progress toward the degree, field of concentration, advising reports and evaluations, records of disciplinary actions, letters of recommendation, and any other official correspondence with or concerning the student.

To be useful, a student’s record must be accurate and complete. The officials who maintain the records are those in charge of the functions reflected in the records and the offices where the records are kept. These ordinarily include the Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Freshmen, the Director of Admissions, the Allston Burr Resident Deans, the Head Tutors or Directors of Undergraduate Studies and Chairs of departments or concentration committees, and the Registrar of the Harvard Summer School. Other officers of the University who wish to place documents or other information in a student’s record must consult with one of these officials who will ensure appropriate form and content of the information submitted. In addition, all students have access to their own records and may contribute to the record if there is need to clarify documents or references contained in it (see Access).

Students should direct any questions they have about the accuracy of records to the person in charge of the office where the records are kept. If questions still remain, the matter may be referred to the Dean of Harvard College. When necessary, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Committee on the Privacy, Security, and Accessibility of Records is available to hear challenges concerning the accuracy of records in those cases where informal discussions have not resolved questions and challenges. The Committee may be reached through the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University Hall, Ground Floor.

Access

Under both Harvard policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (FERPA), students and former students may inspect and review certain of their education records that are maintained by Harvard. They also have the right to exercise limited control over other people’s access to their education records; to seek to correct their education records, in a hearing if necessary (see Education Records); to report violations of FERPA to the Department of Education; and to be fully informed of their rights under FERPA.

Students wishing access to records concerning them should contact the Access Officer in the FAS Registrar’s Office. A student’s Resident Dean and his or her departmental Head Tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies, or other officers as appropriate, are available to provide explanations and interpretations of the records, if necessary. Harvard regards the following information as “directory information,” that is, information that can be made available to the general public: full name; reported date of birth; dates of attendance; concentration; class year; digitized image (note that while Harvard classifies photos and images as directory information, these are rarely released to parties outside the University without the student’s permission); college residence address and telephone number; college email address; secondary school and home town or city at the time application for admission was filed by the student; original class at time of matriculation; House affiliation; height and weight of members of athletic teams; degree candidate status; date of graduation (actual or expected); degree(s) received with field of concentration and level of honors granted (if any); University prizes, fellowships, and similar honors awarded; and, in certain cases, students’ and parents’ or guardians’ home addresses and telephone numbers.

A student may choose not to allow the above information as it applies to himself or herself to be designated “directory information,” in which case the Registrar’s Office will omit all the information listed above from records containing “directory information.” However, the student must inform the Access Officer in the FAS Registrar’s Office, 20 Garden Street, in writing, of that decision. In the case of incoming freshmen, students must notify the Dean of Freshmen by mid-August prior to matriculation. Students should be aware of the possible consequences of withholding “directory information,” such as missed mailings, messages, and announcements, non-verification of enrollment or degree status, and non-inclusion in the Harvard Commencement booklet.

Parents or legal guardians of students are ordinarily informed of important changes of status, such as leaves of absence, probation, and requirement to withdraw. Under certain extenuating circumstances, a student may request an exception to this rule.

In appropriate cases, educational records are disclosed without a student’s knowledge or consent to Harvard officials with legitimate educational interest in the records. “School officials” include faculty, administrators, clerical, professional employees, and agents of the University such as independent contractors performing functions on behalf of Harvard College or the University. The determination of whether an official has a legitimate educational interest will focus on whether disclosure of the information is appropriate for the effective functioning of the person’s office, their position, or the University.

If the Administrative Board finds that a student has committed a disciplinary violation involving a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, the College may, if legally permitted and in the College’s judgment appropriate, disclose certain information about the disciplinary case. The disclosure may include the student’s name, the violation committed, and the sanction imposed.

Complaints regarding alleged violation of rights of students under FERPA may be submitted in writing within 180 days to the Family Policy Compliance Office, US Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-5920.