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Smith College Policy on Access to and Privacy of Records

This statement is issued by Smith College in accordance with the United States Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended. The purpose of the act is to give students and former students access to their official records at the college, to provide an opportunity to correct inaccurate or misleading statements and to ensure that records are not released to unauthorized persons without the consent of the student.

According to the terms of the act, access may be provided to administrative officers and members of the faculty who have legitimate educational interest, including outside contractors, consultants, volunteers or other parties to whom the college has outsourced institutional services or functions; to certain specified agents of the government for the purposes of enforcement and study; to accrediting organizations; to military personnel for recruitment purposes; to other educational agents and institutions in connection with applications for admission and requests for financial aid; to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the college; and to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. Refer to the FERPA Rights for Students (Annual Notice) on the registrar’s office website for more detailed information. All authorized persons outside the college who request access will be required to file a written, signed statement of purpose; this statement will be kept on file and will be made available for inspection only to the student upon request.

Records may be released in certain cases of health or safety emergency. They may be sent to parents of a dependent student or such parents as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. It is the policy of the college to notify both the dependent student and her parents in writing of a change in status (i.e., probation, dismissal, certain academic warnings).

In communications with parents concerning other matters, it is normally college policy to respect the privacy of the student and not to disclose information from student education records without the prior consent of the student. At the request of the student, such information will be provided to parents and guardians. Students may authorize the release of information from their educational records to their parent by completing the appropriate form at the registrar's office.

Transcripts of or information concerning student records will be released to other persons outside the college only with the written consent of the student or upon subpoena, in which case the student will be notified, or other legal exception permitted under FERPA. The act stipulates that the student’s written consent indicates which records are to be released, the reasons for such release and to whom the copies are to be released. A copy of the material to be released may be requested by the student.

Certain information, designated as “directory information,” may be released without consent. At Smith College, this information includes the following: name; home address and telephone number (while enrolled); college address and telephone number; Smith email address; date of birth; dates of attendance (current and past); enrollment status (full-time or part-time); academic/class level; fields of study (major[s], minor, concentration, certificate); degrees, honors, and awards received, including date(s) received; participation in college extra-curricular activities (if known); height and weight of members of college athletic teams; previously attended educational institution(s); student identification number that is (1) used by a student for purposes of accessing or communicating in electronic systems or (2) displayed on a student ID card or elsewhere, but only if it cannot be used, standing alone, by an unauthorized individual to gain access to protected education records except when used in conjunction with one or more factors that authenticate the user’s identity known or possessed only by authorized user(s); photographs and digital images. A student or former student who is unwilling to have this information released to inquirers without consent must follow the process detailed on the registrar’s office website and submit a signed Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information form. In the case of former students, the college reserves the right to verify degrees.

Students’ official records include records, files, documents and other materials containing information directly related to a student that are maintained by the college. They do not include notes kept by instructors, advisers or deans for their own use and available to them only; such notes are maintained by individual administrators and are destroyed when no longer relevant or useful.

Records maintained by the Health Services to provide treatment to the student are not available to anyone other than the persons providing the treatment, but such records can be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional with the written consent of the student.

Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the record prior to January 1, 1975, are not accessible to students. Students may waive their right of access to statements written after that date provided such waiver is not required by the institution and the statements are used for no purpose other than that for which they were written.

Student records at Smith are described below. Procedures for students who wish to consult their records are as follows:

  1. Obtain an “access request” form at the class deans’ office. Complete the form and give it to one of the members of the class deans’ staff. The record will be available for inspection in the class deans’ office within two weeks of the date of the request.
  2. Requests to see records in the Career Development Office should be made to that office.
  3. Students who have questions about their medical records and the use of them are referred directly to the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness.

Questions concerning the files or requests for correction should be made in writing and left with the registrar or the director of the Career Development Office to be brought to the attention of the official in charge of the particular record. If the official in charge is not able or willing to make the correction requested, the case shall be brought to the registrar, the dean of the college and the president.

Official information is on file in the various college offices as follows:

Office of the Registrar
  1. The Smith College academic record.

    The official transcript includes name, previous school attended, dates of attendance including notations of leave of absence, withdrawal and readmission; course numbers, titles, credit, grades; major(s), minor, concentration and/or Five College certificate; Dean’s List; Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Psi Chi; degree and date of award; and honors (Latin or departmental). Courses and credits transferred from other colleges toward the Smith degree are listed. Copies of transcripts ordered by students to be sent outside the college include this information only.

    The permanent record file also includes name, address, Social Security number, preparatory school rank, CEEB scores, date of birth, and the name, address and telephone number of parent or guardian of dependent students. This information is provided for use within the college.

    The majority of permanent academic records are maintained on-line, with a small number of hard copies housed in College Hall or the College Archives. They are available to the student and to officers and faculty of the college who have legitimate need for access. Transcripts and other permanent records are maintained in electronic format and stored securely. Microfilm copies are also stored in a vault off campus as a safeguard against loss of the records on campus. They are accessible only to authorized officers of the college.

  2. Transcripts of records from other colleges submitted for the purpose of transferring credits. These records are retained for five years following graduation or separation from the college, are not normally copied for release.

  3. Grade rosters submitted by teaching faculty. These grade rosters are available only to the instructors who submitted them, to the department chair and to the office staff. If confirmation of a grade is requested, it is obtained individually. Grade rosters and changes of grade are kept on file permanently.

  4. Registration and course-change forms, petitions, etc., most of which are maintained electronically. These are open for inspection by students and staff members and are maintained for a period of one year.

  5. Other academic records in electronic format include identifying information about the student and the academic record. The file is accessible only to staff members. Lists of classes, majors, geographical distribution and other directory information items are made available to authorized persons within the college community.

Student Affairs Office
  1. Information concerning student housing (forms filled out by students).

  2. Student conduct records.

  3. Student background check reports (not related to employment).
Class Deans' Office

Normally, student files in this office are available only to the deans and the office staff and the registrar's office staff. Selected information is provided to the liberal arts advisers. If a student withdraws and later applies for readmission, her official file will be reviewed by the administrative board.

  1. Material forwarded from the Board of Admission, including secondary school transcripts, CEEB and AP scores and the student’s application.

  2. Correspondence and records regarding academic matters.

Office of Student Financial Services
  1. Files containing identifying data PROFILE (CSS) information and FAFSA reports, tax returns, Pell Grant forms, awards and correspondence.

  2. Information on undergraduate aid donors and funds.

  3. Loan applications and correspondence.

  4. Student employment records.

Members of the office staff have access to these files. Information (but not the files) is made available to the president, the dean of the college, the treasurer, the bursar, the office of admission, the graduate office, the deans of student affairs, the class deans and the development office. Selected information is furnished to donors. Information with regard to federal loans in repayment with the college must be kept until paid in full; other files are held for three years.

Career Development Office
  1. Letters of reference collected at the student’s request, to support future applications to graduate schools or employers.

  2. Correspondence with the student.

These files are kept permanently and are normally open only to the office staff. Letters of reference are released, upon written request from the student/alumna, in connection with her applications for jobs and graduate study, and are also released, at her request, to class deans and pre-medical advisers in connection with the preparation of recommendations for professional school.

Graduate Office
  1. Applications for graduate admission and financial assistance for graduate study at Smith College.

  2. Application credentials, which include the following:

    1. Undergraduate transcript and transcripts of previous graduate work.
    2. Letters of recommendation.
    3. Curriculum vitae and Statement of Purpose.
    4. Graduate Record Examinations or Miller Analogies Test scores, and TOEFL scores.
  3. Departmental recommendations and decisions regarding graduate admission.

  4. Graduate academic records.

  5. Grades and comments from theses readers.

Records in this office are available to the office staff, the registrar’s office, members of scholarship review committees and members of the department considering applicants. Records of degree candidates are kept indefinitely. Records of alumnae scholarship recipients through 1995 are also kept indefinitely.

Financial aid records are kept for five years.

Health and Wellness
  1. Medical records are filed together in a master file in the Medical Record Room, under supervision and locked.

  2. Counseling records are kept in the Counseling Service office, completely separate from the rest of the medical offices, in a locked and supervised location. Although these records are maintained separately, entries may be made in the electronic medical record when coordinated health care is indicated, such as when a student is prescribed psychotropic medication.

Medical records, by law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, must be kept for 30 years, X-ray films for seven years. Counseling records are kept for four years after graduation. Access to medical records is limited to personnel within the medical and counseling offices who are directly involved with rendering care to the student. Information from the student’s medical record is released only with written permission from the student.

Office of Disability Services

This information is accessible to disability services office professional staff and deans:

  1. Disability Identification form.

  2. Documentation of disability which has been submitted by the student.

  3. Correspondence with the student.

  4. Correspondence with faculty and other administrative offices which has been authorized by the student.

Updated July 2023