RAS COVID-19 FAQs
Registration & Academic Services COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Registration & Academic Services sends all official correspondence via email utilizing a student's Lehigh University issued email address. This is our primary and official form of communication. Students are expected to check their University email regularly.
The Lehigh University Student Handbook is issued by the Dean of Students Office and is published by Lehigh University as the University's official notification of services and regulations that concern student life at Lehigh.
Academic Rules and Regulations
Guide to academic rules and regulations of what is expected of currently enrolled and potential undergraduates and graduate students and what they can expect of the University.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Lehigh University collects information about students for the express purpose of fulfilling the educational mission, and retains student records for designated periods of time. The University recognizes its obligation to inform students of the existence of these records, of University policies regarding its secure handling and proper use, and of the students’ rights under both policy and law. This policy describes how student information is collected at Lehigh University, how that information might be used by the University, and how individual students can request changes to the way their personal information is used or shared.
I. EXPECTATIONS OF PRIVACY and DIRECTORY INFORMATION
Lehigh University recognizes the privacy concerns of students, and has instituted policies and processes to secure information collected from students during the course of their time at the University. For the purpose of this policy, a student is defined as an individual currently or previously enrolled in an academic offering of Lehigh University. For newly admitted students, this policy becomes effective when the student has been admitted and their information has been entered into the Student Information System. Information included in the application becomes a part of the student's educational records. Note that records originating at another institution will also be subject to these policies.
These records may include personally identifiable information (PII) provided by the student, such as information related to racial or ethnic origin, religious or other beliefs, health, biometrics, or criminal background. Such sensitive information is subject to special controls described below (see Section III).
Information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed is known as Directory Information. Lehigh University defines Directory Information to include: a student's name; home and University addresses; mailbox number; home and University phone numbers; date and place of birth; name of parent or guardian; name of spouse; major field of college student; class level; dates of attendance; degrees and awards received; the most recently attended educational institution; and, participation in sports and in officially recognized activities listed by the student; weight and height of members of athletic teams.
Directory Information may be disclosed without the permission of the student. Each student has the right to limit the access of off campus parties, excluding government agencies in certain situations, to information that would normally be released in the University Student Directory or athletic programs. Students who wish to exercise this right may do so by making the request to Registration & Academic Services in writing or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, using their Lehigh University email account.
If you are a citizen of the European Union or other regions with laws governing data collection and use, please note that by providing your personal information to Lehigh University, you consent to transfer and processing in accordance with this policy. By continuing to utilize Lehigh University sites or services or by submitting personal information to the University, you are agreeing to the terms of this policy and acknowledge that your information will be handled in accordance with this policy.
II. Notification of Rights under the FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 34 CFR § 99) affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution at any age.)
These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days after the day Lehigh University receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The school official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the school official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask Lehigh University to amend a record should write the school official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If Lehigh University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- The right to provide written consent before Lehigh University discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. Lehigh University discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests (see Section III, below).
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Lehigh University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202.
Student educational records subject to the preceding actions are defined as records, files, documents, data and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by Lehigh University or by a person acting for Lehigh University pursuant to University, college, departmental, or administrative unit policy.
Student educational records do not include records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel that are in the sole possession of the maker and that are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a substitute. Other exclusions include:
- Notes of a professor/staff member concerning a student and intended for the professor's/staff member's own use are not subject to inspection, disclosure, and challenge.
- Records created and maintained by the Lehigh University Police Department for law enforcement purposes.
- Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational agency or institution not as a result of his/her status as a student that:
- Are made and maintained in the normal course of business;
- Relate exclusively to the individual in that individual's capacity as an employee; and
- Are not available for use for any other purpose.
- However, employment records relating to Lehigh University students who are employed as a result of their status as students (e.g. federally-funded work study, graduate assistants, resident assistants) are considered educational records.
- Records on students that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting or assisting in that capacity are not subject to the provisions of access, disclosure, and challenge. Such records, however, must be made, maintained, or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and are not available to anyone other than the persons providing such treatment or a substitute. Such records may be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.
- Alumni records.
LEHIGH UNIVERSITY SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
- Sample Letter of Recommendation Request (PDF)
- FERPA Training Session video
- Parent FERPA Brochure
- FERPA Family Compliance Office
- HEOA - Higher Education Opportunity Act Disclosures
Educational records, or the contents thereof, will not be released to the student, parents, or any third party so long as a financial indebtedness or serious academic and/or disciplinary matter involving the student remains unresolved. This limitation does not preclude the student from having personal access to the records - merely from obtaining the release of the information. The student may not have access to the confidential financial statement of parents or any information contained in such statements.
A student may waive his/her right to access to confidential letters of recommendation that he/she seeks for admission to any educational agency or institution; for employment; or for application for an honor or honorary recognition. The student must be notified on request of all such individuals furnishing recommendations, and the letters must be solely for the stated purpose for which the student was notified and for which he/she waived his/her right of access. Such waivers may not be required as a condition for admission to, receipt of financial aid from, or receipt of any other services or benefits from such agency or institution.
III. Disclosures of Information that Lehigh University May Make Without Consent
Lehigh University may disclose personally identifiable information (PII) from students’ education records, without obtaining prior written consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in the FERPA regulations (see 34 CFR § 99.31, and following).
Lehigh University may disclose PII from the education records in the following circumstances:
- Institutional officials whom Lehigh University has determined to have legitimate educational interests may receive student records pertinent to their professional responsibility. An official includes a person employed by Lehigh University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. Provided that the conditions listed in the FERPA regulations are met, officials also may include contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom Lehigh University has contracted institutional services or functions for which the school would otherwise use its own employees, and who is under the direct control of Lehigh University with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records. Any official’s access to education records is restricted, where practical, to that portion of the record necessary for the discharge of assigned duties in the service of legitimate educational interest.
An institutional official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibilities for Lehigh University. Legitimate educational interests are defined as objectives that are essential to the general process of higher education prescribed by the body of policy adopted by the governing board. In addition, Lehigh University recognizes that certain co-curricular activities that are generally supportive of overall goals of the institution and contribute generally to the well-being of the entire student body and specifically to many individuals who participate in these activities may constitute legitimate educational interests. These activities include varsity and intramural sports, social fraternities, specific interest clubs, and student government. Access to certain limited student education records may be granted to officials who support such programs and activities, subject to strict oversight policy.
- Upon request, the University also discloses education records without consent to officials of another institution in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. In addition, Lehigh University may return records to the apparent creator of those records in order to verify authenticity.
- Authorized representatives of federal and state government, such as agency officials requesting information in connection with the audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity of federally supported education programs, or in connection with the enforcement of federal and state legal requirements that relate to such programs. Except when collection of personally identifiable data is specifically authorized by federal and state law, any data collected and reported with respect to an individual student shall not include information (including Social Security number) that would permit the personal identification of such student.
- In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
- Information that will not permit the individual identification of students may be released to organizations of educational agencies or institutions conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to: (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction. Similarly, information may be released to accrediting organizations in order to carry out their accrediting functions.
- To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena pursuant to a judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding.
- To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency. On an emergency basis, information about a student that is, in Lehigh University's judgment, necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others may be released by a designated officer of the University to any person whose knowledge of the situation is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others.
- To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense (subject to the requirements of § 99.39). The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding. Information concerning registered sex offenders may be released in a manner consistent with federal and state regulations.
- To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding (subject to the requirements of § 99.39), if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her.
- To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21.
Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, FERPA regulations requires Lehigh University to record the disclosure. Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures.