FERPA Compliant Contact Centers & Why They Matter for Your School
As an educational institution, you already know that you must comply with certain federal regulations like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). But when outsourcing your contact center services, how does this compliance extend to that third party?
To explore your responsibilities and options, let’s take a look at FERPA regulations and how your FERPA compliant call center helps your educational institution stay compliant.
We have the people, technology and FERPA training in place to deliver a compliant experience.
What Is FERPA Compliance?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was established to protect the privacy of students as it relates to their educational records. Who does FERPA apply to? All schools who receive funds under the US Department of Education must comply. Failure to comply with FERPA regulation could result in loss of federal and state funding. A willful violation like failing to get proper authorization for disclosure or outsourcing to a non-compliant call center could result in harsh disciplinary action on a case-by-case basis.
Some institutions also have their own Board of Trustees’ Policy that outlines other disciplinary action for their associated organizations and partners.
What Is a FERPA Violation?
The law identifies what is considered protected information, including educational information, personally-identifying information (PII) and directory information. In short, educational records are things like:
- Social Security number
- Evaluations for academic purposes
An institution must obtain signed, written consent before releasing any information beyond directory information.
When a violation has taken place, the parent or legal guardian (for <18 or prior to postsecondary) or the eligible student (>18 in postsecondary) may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) when they believe that FERPA regulation has not been followed.
What Makes a Contact Center FERPA Compliant?
A FERPA compliant call center meets the following FERPA guidelines and FERPA requirements
- Students’ Rights – We inform students of their FERPA rights on an annual basis and inform them of any FERPA-related changes that may impact them.
- Acquire Consent – We acquire proper consent before releasing information.
- Ongoing FERPA Training – As a FERPA compliant call center, we conduct regular FERPA training as required by FERPA for all employees.
- Notification of Directory Information – As applicable, we would notify students of what is considered directory information.
- FERPA IT Compliance – In addition to the human element, a FERPA compliant contact center has technology in place to prevent student privacy breaches. This includes but may not be limited to: encryption, maintaining secure online programs and access, secure databases, regular risk assessment to detect and eliminate vulnerabilities, FERPA compliance monitoring of agents and other personnel who have access, limiting access to a need-to-know basis, strong password policy and enforcement, firewall and virus protection.
- Compassionate & Skillful Customer Care & De-escalation – A FERPA compliant contact center knows how to handle delicate situations regarding student rights protection. For example, since we cannot release PII to a parent of an eligible student without that student’s consent, our staff has been trained to caringly and confidently explain FERPA rights and what is needed before information can be released. This is not a FERPA requirement, but you certainly want this when outsourcing to a FERPA compliant call center.
Why Outsourcing To a FERPA Compliant Call Center Is So Important
A FERPA compliant contact center offers the FERPA compliance services your institution needs to maintain compliance. When you outsource call center services, we become an extension of your organization. Your institution may face penalties if your contracted call center fails to comply with FERPA.
A FERPA compliant contact center helps you:
- Retain your federal and state funding.
- Avoid data breaches and resulting PR nightmares.
- Maintain strong relationships with vendors, clients, partners, students and parents.
- Handle every call with personalized care and expert knowledge.
FERPA Compliance Services You Can Trust
Global Response is a FERPA compliant contact center. We have the people, technology, FERPA training programs, and procedures in place to meet FERPA regulation and deliver a compassionate and compliant customer experience. To learn more about how we can help your institution deliver the best and most compliant experience for those you serve, contact us to schedule a consultation!