Understanding FERPA, Right-to-Know, and more in the Registrar's Office

November 29, 2021
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Registrar Self-Assessment
  • AM22 Career Development Skills
  • Career  Development Skills
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The task of compliance, legal and otherwise, often falls on the shoulders of the Registrar’s Office. Chapter 8 of the Registrar’s Self-Assessment guides higher-ed professionals on a variety of topics, including:


  • The Solomon Amendment

  • Student Right-to-Know Legislation

  • Voter Registration

  • Enrollment Certifications

  • Certification Requirements for Federal Financial Aid

  • Athletic Eligibility

  • Veterans Administration Certification

  • Compliance Issues in Association with Distance Education

  • State Specific Compliance or Certification Issues

 Evaluating and Maintaining Compliance in the Registrar’s Office.

The Registrar's Self-Assessment is a cost-effective and practical guide for registrars to assess various functions, processes, and procedures. It allows members to grade their proficiency in several determined core competencies, including managing the registrar’s office, academic policies, grading processes, degree audits, professional development, and more. In addition, the Self-Assessment identifies areas for potential improvement and recommends specific relevant AACRAO resources and products to increase mastery in these areas. Available in both digital and physical formats, the Self-Assessment mimics the approach an outside consultant would use to evaluate the operations of a registrar's office.

 Each section contains a self-assessment based on broad best practices and guidance. Additionally, each section concludes with a guided action plan to assist in stimulating growth and improvement.

 We’ve included a truncated overview of the guiding principles contained in each section to give a preview of what to expect in the complete Registrar’s Self-Assessment.

 FERPA - Guiding Principle

  • The registrar is typically the certifying official who plays an important role in monitoring compliance with the provisions of FERPA. The registrar is required to provide training for the office staff and may be required to provide similar training for the faculty and other staff at the institution.

 Solomon Amendment - Guiding Principle

  • The Military Recruiting and Reserve Officer Training Corps Program Access to Institutions of Higher Education (Solomon Amendment) prohibits most institutions from denying military recruiters access to directory information for the purpose of recruiting. Further, the law prohibits institutions from enacting an anti-ROTC policy.

 Student Right-to-Know Legislation - Guiding Principle

  • The Student Right-to-Know Legislation requires schools who receive federal financial aid to make certain specific information readily available to all currently enrolled students, and to prospective students upon request. This information includes, but is not limited to, completion or graduation rates of students as well as information about student-athletes. It is imperative to monitor legislation to remain compliant.

 Voter Registration - Guiding Principle

  • Federal higher education legislation requires institutions to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms and information to each student in attendance. Subsequent legislation allows for electronic notification of online voter registration forms and instructions.

 Enrollment Certifications - Guiding Principle

  • The registrar is the institution’s primary responsible officer for providing official statements and certifications of enrollment at the request of the student or outside agencies. Care must be taken to ensure that non-directory information is released only upon the consent of the student.

 Certification Requirements for Financial Aid - Guiding Principle

  • Federal financial aid rules require institutions to verify if students are in attendance if they receive federal financial aid. They also require institutions to know and report a student’s last date of attendance if they leave during a term. It is critical to have a mechanism in place for reporting this information to your financial aid office and the Department of Education.

 Athletic Eligibility - Guiding Principle

  • The Office of the Registrar is responsible for certifying the academic qualifications of student-athletes and therefore plays a major role in the determination of athletic eligibility. 

 Veterans Administration Certification - Guiding Principle

  • The Registrar is often the certifying official who has been delegated the authority by the institution to sign enrollment certification documents and reports related to Veterans Administration educational benefits.

 Compliance Issues in Association with Distance Education - Guiding Principle

  • Institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses must be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students in order for those students to be eligible for federal financial aid. The Department of Education allows for state authorization reciprocity agreements to help institutions effectively and efficiently gain such authorization.

 State Specific Compliance or Certification Issues - Guiding Principle

  • Many states have laws and regulations that affect the Registrar’s Office. These may include residency requirements, state scholarship eligibility, legal presence requirements, or special stipulations on release of public information. Many times these will only apply to public, state-supported institutions.

Interested in utilizing the Registrar's Self-Assessment in your office? Visit AACRAO's On-Demand Learning page to gain access.


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