Southern Miss and FERPA Compliance Policy

The University of Southern Mississippi, consistent with the regulations of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act as amended in 1974, insures students the right to inspect and review their educational records within 45 days from the time of the request.

In addition, the law prohibits the release of personally identifiable information without the student's permission, with the following exceptions:

  • To University of Southern Mississippi school officials who have a legitimate educational interest. The University of Southern Mississippi considers a school official to have a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. The University of Southern Mississippi considers school officials as those members of the institution who act in the student's educational interest within the limitations of their "need to know." These may include faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and others persons who manage student education record information including student employees or agents. It may also include contractors, volunteers, and others performing institutional functions.

  • To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs.
  • To a parent of dependent students for income tax purposes as defined by section 152 of the IRS code of 1954. A 1040 form may be appropriate.
  • In a health or safety emergency.
  • To comply with a judicial order or subpoena.
  • In connection with Financial Aid including Veteran benefits.
  • To the alleged victim of any crime or violence, as described in section 16 of title 18, United States Code.
  • To organizations, persons, or company with whom the University has contracted; individuals serving on the Institution of Higher Learning Board; students serving on an official committee; a person assisting another school official in performing his/her task.
  • When an individual with an education record is deceased.
  • Designated officials as defined by the Patriot Act of 2001.
  • Information deemed by the University as directory information.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi has designated the following items as directory information:
    1. Student's Name
    2. Address
    3. Telephone Number
    4. E-mail Address
    5. Major
    6. Dates of Attendance
    7. Classification
    8. Degree(s) Earned
    9. Previous Institutions Attended
    10. Participation in Student Organizations
    11. Participation in University recognized organization and activities
    12. Weight and height of athletic team member
    13. Honors and awards
    14. Student's photo
    15. Dean's/President's List
  • A student must request the University not to release directory information; however, students should consider the consequences of that action before making the decision to do so.  Students choosing to have directory information withheld must complete a written request and submit verifiable identification to the Office of the University Registrar.  A form is available on the Hattiesburg campus in the Office of the University Registrar (Kennard-Washington Hall, Room 110) and on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach in the Student Services Office (Holloway East 3).  Students who are not able to come to either campus can send an inquiry to registrar@usm.edu, and a form with return instructions will be sent to the student.
  • The University reserves the right to deny copies of records, including transcripts, not required to be made available if student has an unpaid balance to the University.

Release of Education Records

The University is authorized to provide access to student records to campus officials and employees who have legitimate educational interest in such access, without the student's written consent. These persons are those who have responsibilities in connection with campus academic, administrative or service functions and who have reason for using student records connected with their campus or other related academic/administrative responsibilities as opposed to a personal or private interest. Such determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.

University officials will release educational information upon receipt of a signed, dated, written consent of the student which must specify the records that may be disclosed and identify the party to whom the disclosure may be made.

To officials of another school, school system, or an institution of postsecondary education where the student seeks admission or is enrolled.

Parents of a dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152, and who supply supporting documentation, may be granted access to a student's educational record under some circumstances.

Other circumstances that allow access to a student's educational record:

In connection with Financial Aid; to organizations who are conducting studies on behalf of educational agencies; to Federal or State educational authorities; to accrediting organizations; in compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena; in connection with a health or safety emergency.

In the course of fulfilling its contractual obligations with third party vendors contracted with the University.  In this capacity, the third party vendor is acting as a legal agent (“school official”) of the university and will use the confidential information for the purposes stated in the agreement.  Currently, the university has entered into agreements with, but not limited to, the following vendors:

Aramark Food Services

Barnes and Nobles Bookstore

iModules

Harris Connect

Higher One

ACS - American Computer Services, INC.

National Student Clearinghouse

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation

The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association

The University of Southern Mississippi Athletics Foundation

The right to inspect and review all materials in your file(s) except items not considered an educational record as follows:

  • Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials.
  • Law enforcement or campus police security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations placed in students' files prior to January 1, 1975, provided these letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which specifically collected.
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation, placed in students' records after January1, 1975, to which the student has waived his/her right to inspect and that are related to the students' admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors. Education records containing information about more than one student; however, in such cases the institution must permit access to that part of the record which pertains only to the inquiring student.
  • Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professionals or paraprofessionals and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment(s).

F.E.R.P.A. afford individuals the opportunity to challenge or amend his/her education record if inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy or other rights of the student. The student may submit a written request to the Registrar's Office that the record be amended or the F.E.R.P.A. violation be investigated. The University Registrar's Office is located in Kennard-Washington Hall, Room 110.

Within 60 days of receipt of the written request, the University will inform the student as to whether the record will be amended. The request should include justification for the challenge. A grade may be challenged on the grounds that it was inaccurately recorded.

If the decision is negative, the student may submit a written request for a hearing in order to challenge the content of the record(s). The hearing committee will inform the student of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

Challenges and requests for a hearing must be in writing and should be directed to the Office of the University Registrar.

School officials' responsibility regarding privacy of students' records.

  • A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the University has contracted; student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary committee or a person assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
  • It is the responsibility of each school official to understand his or her legal responsibilities under F.E.R.P.A. These include maintaining the privacy of students' grades for any course or for any activity which is part of a course.
  • This policy is violated if a student's grade is (1) openly mentioned in class; (2) publically posted in a personally identifiable manner such as social security number or student identification number; (3) paper, test, or projects in public view (4) released over the telephone or electronically to any person other than the student or his/her designee with written consent.
  • Disclosure of a student's' grades by a faculty member may be made only in a manner that makes the grades identifiable only to the faculty member and the student.
  • Upon completion of training, school officials will be provided documentation he/she realizes discloser of non-directory information violates F.E.R.P.A. and places the University at risk of losing Federal funding.

Questions about the policies and procedures about the University's "Policy on Student Records" or about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, should be directed to:

Attn: Greg Pierce, University Registrar
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive #5006
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Telephone number: 601-266-5006

Individuals have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with the requirements of F.E.R.P.A. The name and address of the office that administers F.E.R.P.A. is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605