OnTask is FERPA Compliant for Educational Institutions
One of the top priorities for schools, universities, and educational institutions of all kinds is keeping students and faculty safe, and that includes maintaining the security of their confidential information. Details such as students’ grades or addresses need to be protected from those who might use them for nefarious purposes, while remaining available to authorized parties like the students in question or their parents.
For this reason, schools and other entities looking to go digital need to seriously consider the security of their prospective workflow automation tool. We’re proud to share that OnTask is FERPA compliant, with various layers of security built in to protect sensitive data. Adopting a paperless document automation system not only makes life easier for teacher and back-office employees, but the right solution also offers data protection to meet and exceed FERPA standards.
Here’s what you need to know about FERPA, and how OnTask can help you stay in compliance.
What is FERPA?
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It’s a federal law mandating the way in which educational institutions handle and share sensitive student information. In essence, any school, university or learning facility that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education is bound by FERPA regulations. These regulations are designed to keep the personal information of individuals within the school system private, and failure to comply can result in serious legal and financial consequences, and even a complete loss of funding for those in question..
There are two main criteria that must be met in order to stay within FERPA compliance. The first is that data must be secured so that unauthorized parties cannot access it. A FERPA-compliant college keeps confidential information safe from prying eyes while meeting the law’s standards. The second is that the data needs to still be readily accessible to an authorized person who requests it through the proper channels. In essence, student data must be kept under tight lock and key, while also staying within reach when needed.
FERPA violation consequences can be severe for centers of learning, up to and including withdrawal of federal education funding, so it’s paramount that educational institutions do all they can to keep students’ and employees’ records and personal data safe.
Some FERPA violation examples include distributing documents that contain sensitive information (such as social security numbers), publicly posting students’ grades, and revealing a student athlete’s academic standing. Keeping incidents such as these from occurring should be a top priority for schools and universities.
How do Schools Stay FERPA Compliant?
In a perfect world, FERPA compliance would simply be a matter of trust and common sense: Only authorized parties would seek out the information they needed, and institutions of learning would know exactly who needed sensitive information, and why. Unfortunately, personal data has become increasingly valuable to bad actors, for both personal and profitable reasons. As technology evolves for both positive and negative uses, it’s more important than ever that schools and colleges keep that prized information secure.
One way schools keep sensitive student data safe is through the use of FERPA forms. FERPA forms can be used to request information, to permit an institution to share information, or simply to record a party’s acknowledgement that information is sensitive and subject to FERPA law.
If a student wanted to make sure the information an institution kept on their academic career is up-to-date and accurate, they would need to fill out a form to request access to it. Conversely, if a student is applying to a particular college, they might want to fill out a form allowing their high school to share certain information, such as letters of recommendation. These consent forms are known as FERPA waiver forms.
All FERPA forms create a physical or digital “paper trail” keeping track of the flow of privileged information for the benefit of both the institution in possession of the data and the individual to whom it pertains.
FERPA-Compliant Document Solutions
Another way schools of all types and sizes make sure that personal information is protected in the age of digital data—and digital data theft—is through the use of a FERPA-compliant automated document solution.
In our increasingly paperless world, more and more organizations are turning to automation—and schools are no exception: That trend continues outside the classroom, as learning institutions everywhere are adopting digital solutions to generating, processing, storing, and distributing documents.
FERPA-complaint workflow automation tools like OnTask’s make use of multiple layers of cutting-edge security protocols to ensure privacy and protection for sensitive information. These systems not only enable learning centers to manage administrative processes with increased convenience and store data without taking up space, but also keep that data safe yet accessible, to FERPA standards.
How OnTask Makes FERPA Compliance Easy
Creating a secure environment for your data is a top priority, as well as an ongoing critical mission, at OnTask. Nothing is more important than the safety of your sensitive information. As a result, we have a number of measures in place to help meet FERPA guidelines and ensure that all student and user data stay secure:
OnTask is segmented by organizations, which have workspaces within them that contain members. Having designated workspaces allows administrators to separate access to specific workflows, and therefore select exactly who can be granted access to certain data. All workflow data is secured, and is only available to authenticated users who have been given access to that specific workspace. This helps protect against security breaches by unauthorized users, and the unlawful sharing of private information.
Layers of Encryption
Digital documents created or imported into OnTask are easy to find, yet encrypted end-to-end within the system to protect any sensitive information that has been collected. No convoluted or time-consuming third-party program or process is necessary to lock down a file at the user end. We also employ encryption in transit, which is an extra security measure that protects data when it is being sent and received between platforms. This is important to ensure secure routing when you’re integrating other systems, like your organization’s CRM, with OnTask.
Your protection and peace of mind are our number-one priorities. To that end, OnTask makes it a policy not to participate in any kind of data or document sharing with any outside parties. Individuals who are authorized by their administrators are the only parties who can access data.
Helping Educational Institutions Stay Secure
Maintaining FERPA standards doesn’t have to be another full-time managerial role. OnTask makes it efficient, convenient and safe for schools, universities and educational institutions of all disciplines and sizes to stay within FERPA compliance. We work hard to make life easier for users, while keeping their data safe yet easily accessible for authorized users. From student registration forms to student loan applications and everything in between, OnTask provides a secure way to get time back in your day without worrying about document security.
Is your institution in need of a FERPA-compliant workflow automation solution? Schedule a demo today.