Academic Records of Veterans
The Institute maintains a written record of a student’s previous education. This is part of the student’s official transcript, and included on this is a summary of any prior college-level education. A true copy of a transcript of college-level work at other institutions is maintained as part of the student’s record. The amount of credit granted for prior training is indicated on the student’s official transcript and, where this results in the shortening of a required training period in the case of a veteran, the Veterans Administration is notified.
The Institute’s official transcript for each student shows the progress that student is making at the Institute. There is a record of each course enrolled in each term with a grade recorded for the course. The total number of units earned is kept so that the record will show continued progress toward the degree sought. The final grades are recorded at the end of each term of the school year, and the accumulative permanent record has on it grades for all subjects taken at the Institute. No student is allowed to enroll repeatedly in a course and withdraw without penalty. If a student enrolls in a course, they are expected to complete the course or receive a failing grade unless they withdraw from the course prior to the deadline for dropping courses. All students must maintain a minimum load equivalent to 12 quarter hours each term; no student may drop courses that would bring them below this level of effort. At any time when the student falls below the required number of units, fails to receive satisfactory grades, or engages in unsatisfactory conduct, the record is marked to indicate this, and the student is forbidden to continue at the Institute.
The grading system of the Institute is A+ (excellent) to F (failed). An A+ is equivalent to 4.3 and an F to 0.0. A student must maintain a grade-point average of 1.9 in any term in order to be able to enroll in a successive term at the Institute. A minimum 1.9 overall grade-point average is required for graduation. A student who drops below the required average (1.9 for a given term) is dismissed and must petition for reinstatement. A student may be reinstated by the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee and, if so, is required to earn a 1.9 GPA during the immediately following term. The Veterans Administration is notified when a veteran is academically dismissed or is making unsatisfactory progress toward a degree. Since the Institute requires all students to carry a minimum full load that corresponds to 12 quarter hours each term, any student who finishes a term in good standing is considered to have made satisfactory progress. If a student withdraws from a course before the final date for withdrawal, no grade is given in that course. The time spent in school counts, however, and the student may be considered to have not made satisfactory progress in the event of such withdrawal.
In order to withdraw from any course, a student must drop the course in REGIS or submit a written request to the Registrar’s Office. The instructor should maintain the date on which the student was last in official attendance in that course. If a student reenrolls in that course and successfully completes it, that fact will be noted on their official transcript.
VETERANS BENEFITS AND TRANSITION ACT OF 2018 (SECTION 103)
Caltech adheres to the requirements of and complies with the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018, specifically S2248 PL 115-407 Section 103. This provision was effective August 1, 2019 for any students who are considered “a covered individual” using “Chapter 33: Post 9/11 GI Bill®” benefits or any participants in “Chapter 31: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program” benefits at a public, private for-profit, or not-for-profit institution regarding unpaid tuition and fees.
Caltech permits any covered individual to attend or participate in courses during the period beginning on the date on which the individual provides to the educational institution a certificate of eligibility for entitlement to educational assistance under chapter 31 or 33 of this title.
In accordance with S2248 PL 115-407 Section 103 Caltech will not impose any penalty, including the assessment of late fees, the denial of access to classes, libraries, or other Institute facilities, or the requirement that a covered individual borrow additional funds, on any covered individual because of the individual’s inability to meet their financial obligations to the institution due to the delayed disbursement of a payment to be provided by the Secretary under chapter 31 or 33 of this title.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
Access to Student Records
The Institute maintains educational records for each student that include name, address, student identification number (including Social Security number), information on parents, guardian, and spouse, general information on academic status at the Institute, previous school data, results of standardized admissions examinations, courses previously taken or being taken, credits, grades, as well as other educational records. Applicants for financial aid have an additional file holding those records. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Caltech policy afford students certain rights as well as establish limitations with respect to student educational records. These rights and limitations are as follows:
1. Caltech permits disclosure of educational records, without consent of the student, to Institute officials with legitimate educational interests in them. An Institute official is a person employed by the Institute in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support-staff position (including security personnel and health and diversity center staff), a person or company with whom the Institute has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, consultants, contractors, or collection agent), a person serving on the Board of Trustees, or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another Institute official in performing their tasks. An Institute official has a legitimate educational interest if they need to review an educational record in order to fulfill their professional responsibility. They are available to the registrar, provost, president, general counsel, vice president for development and institute relations, vice president for student affairs, dean of graduate studies, dean of undergraduate students, director of financial aid, and faculty of the Institute and their respective staffs for the normal academic and business purposes of the Institute. Records involving financial aid are maintained by the director of financial aid, and are available to the director and staff, to the dean of graduate studies and staff, to the Faculty Committee on Scholarships and Financial Aid, and to the Faculty Committee on Graduate Study, for the purpose of granting and administering the Institute’s financial aid program. Except as authorized by federal or state law or regulation, none of these education records nor any personally-identifiable information contained therein, other than directory information (see below), may be made available to anyone else, other than the student, without the consent of the student. Where the student consents to disclosure of personally-identifiable information from the student’s education records and Caltech chooses to disclose such information, if the student so requests, the Institute will provide the student with a copy of the records disclosed. The Institute will maintain a record of each request for access to and each disclosure of personally-identifiable information from the education records of a student, as required by applicable federal law or regulation.
2. Students are allowed access to their educational records as follows: A student may inspect and review their academic transcript during normal working hours. To inspect and review other records, the student must provide a written request to the registrar or to the director of financial aid or to the dean of graduate studies or to the dean of undergraduate students, or their designees, as appropriate. A mutually-convenient time will be arranged within 45 days after receipt of the request for the student to inspect and review the records in their file. At that time the student may examine all educational records in the file with the exception of those specifically exempted by Part 99 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. If circumstances effectively prevent the student from exercising their right to review their education records, the Institute will make other arrangements. If a student believes the educational records relating to the student contain information that is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s rights of privacy, the student may ask the Institute to amend the record. The Institute will decide whether to amend the records as requested within a reasonable time after receiving the request. If the registrar, or the director of financial aid, or the dean of graduate studies, or the dean of undergraduate students, or their designees, decide not to amend the record as requested, the student will be informed of the decision and of their right to a hearing. The student will have, on request, an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the records on the grounds that the information contained in the records is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the privacy rights of the student. To request a hearing, the student must submit a written request to the vice president for student affairs or their designee. The vice president for student affairs or their designee will schedule such a hearing within a reasonable time after receipt of the request and will notify the student at a time reasonably in advance of the hearing of its date, time, and place. The student will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented by individuals of their choice at their own expense, including an attorney. The decision of the vice president or designee will be in writing, will be rendered within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the hearing, and will be final. This decision will be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing and will include a summary of the evidence and of the reasons for the decision. If, as a result of the hearing, the Institute decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student, the Institute will amend the record accordingly, and inform the student of the amendment in writing. However, if, as a result of the hearing, the Institute decides that the information is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of a student, it will inform the student of the right to place in the educational records a statement commenting on the information in the records and/or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the Institute. If the Institute places a statement in the education records of the student, the Institute will maintain the statement with the contested part of the record for as long as the record is maintained and will disclose the statement whenever it discloses the portion of the record to which the statement relates.
3. The Institute considers the following to be directory information: a student’s name, UID, addresses (permanent, campus and local/off-campus, and email), associated telephone listings, ID photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, year in school, current enrollment status, expected date of graduation, name of academic adviser, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height if a member of an athletic team, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, thesis title, hometown, and most recently attended educational agency or institution. Directory information may be made available to requestors at the Institute’s discretion. Any student may, however, have part or all of this information withheld by notifying the registrar in writing. That information will then be withheld for the balance of that academic year. If the information is to be withheld in subsequent years, new requests must be filed.
4. A student will not be required to waive any rights regarding access to educational records. However, a student may voluntarily waive in writing right of access to confidential statements made by third parties respecting admission to educational agencies or institutions, applications for employment, or the receipt of an honor or honorary recognition. In case of waiver, the confidential statements will be used solely for the purposes for which they were specifically intended, and the student will, upon request, be notified of the names of all persons making such confidential statements. If a student should desire to waive right of access, may contact the registrar for more information.
5. The Institute reserves the right to destroy from time to time any and all educational records that it maintains on a student, except to the extent that the law requires their maintenance for a longer period of time. However, where access to records has been requested, no destruction of those records will be allowed to take place until such access has been granted or denied.
6. Students who believe their rights under FERPA may have been violated may file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington D.C. 20202-4605.
Transcripts of Records
A student, or former student, may request that official transcripts of their records be forwarded to designated institutions or individuals. Requests should be filed at the Registrar’s Office at least five days before the date on which the transcripts are to be mailed.
PARENT, GUARDIAN, AND EMERGENCY CONTACT NOTIFICATION POLICY
Caltech understands and supports a student’s right to confidentiality regarding educational records1 as well as matters related to a student’s experience at the Institute. Most communications from Caltech regarding academics, health and safety, advising, enrollment, and policies are directed only to students. However, the Institute does encourage students to share important information with their parent(s) or guardian. Subject to the allowable exceptions under FERPA, there may be circumstances under which a Caltech administrator makes the determination that notification to parent(s) or a guardian is indicated, and notification may be made without a student’s consent. In most cases, when a Caltech administrator determines that involving parent(s) or guardian is necessary, the student will be given an opportunity to make contact in advance of the administrator’s communication. Administrators will consider any relevant information which may indicate that notification to parent(s) or guardian may not be appropriate based on individual circumstances. The Institute expects all students to designate an emergency contact who is a parent or guardian or other family member who may be notified in order to address a health or safety emergency, and who is in a position to make decisions on the student’s behalf in the case of a medical emergency. An alternate emergency contact also may be identified for other purposes.
Situations that may warrant the involvement of a student’s, parent(s), guardian, or emergency contact may include, but are not limited to:
1. Concerns about a student under the age of 18.
Caltech administrators will initiate communication with the parent(s) or guardian of a minor student in the cases described below, as well as any other concerns about a minor student that may benefit from collaboration with the student’s support system.
2. Change in enrollment or status of an undergraduate student.
A change in the enrollment status of an undergraduate student may occur as a result of disciplinary action, unsatisfactory academic progress, or other factors. If an undergraduate student is separated from the Institute, the parent(s) or guardian will be notified by mail at the permanent address on file.
3. Medical emergencies.
State law prohibits health care professionals from disclosing medical information to the parents or guardian of a student without the student’s explicit consent. In the event a student is incapacitated, unable to communicate, or otherwise cannot make decisions on their own behalf, the Institute will first cooperate with medical providers and then notify the emergency contact, parent(s) or guardian on file as soon as possible.
4. Unexplained absence from campus.
Caltech has established a policy to assist in locating Caltech students living in Caltech campus housing when Caltech has determined a student to be missing. The key components of this policy are as follows:
- Designation of Confidential Contact. Students have the option of identifying an individual to be contacted by Caltech within 24 hours after the time the student has been determined to be missing (missing person contact). This information will be accessible only to authorized campus officials and may not be disclosed except to law enforcement personnel in a missing person’s investigation. If a student chooses not to provide a confidential contact and is deemed to be missing, Caltech will notify the student’s emergency contact or parent.
- Reporting and Investigation. Any individual who believes a student living in on campus housing may be missing should immediately contact Caltech Campus Security. Once Caltech receives a missing student report, Security will notify the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Deans, the AVP for Student Affairs and Residential Experience and the Director of Housing. Upon notification that any student may be missing, Caltech will initiate an investigation. If a student is determined to have been missing for twenty-four (24) hours and has not returned to campus, Caltech will notify the appropriate law enforcement agency and initiate other notifications as provided below.
- Notification Procedures. A student’s missing person contact will be notified within 24 hours of a determination by Caltech that the student is missing. If no missing person contact has been designated, the student’s emergency contact will be notified. If the student is under 18 years of age and not an emancipated individual, Caltech is also required to notify a custodial parent or guardian within 24 hours of the determination that the student is missing.
5. Significant disruption to the campus community.
The emergency contact, parent(s) or guardian of a student may be notified if the student is behaving in a way that is substantially disruptive to the campus community, there is reason to believe the student is at risk of harming themselves or others, or is placed under arrest or charged with a crime related to conduct on campus.
6. Repeated or flagrant violations of the Substance Abuse Policy.
Caltech administrators may contact parent(s) or guardian if a student under the age of 21 is found responsible for serious or repeated violations of Institute policy related to the possession, use or distribution of alcohol or drugs. Consideration in these situations will be given to the following conditions: the violation involved harm or threat of harm to self, others or property; the violation involved an arrest in which the student was taken into custody; the violation resulted in or could result in the student being suspended and/or removed from an Institute residence; the student has shown a pattern of violations; the student required urgent medical intervention as a result of consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.
7. Student death.
In the event of a student death, Caltech administrators will cooperate with law enforcement, the coroner, medical personnel, and any other relevant officials who will provide official notification to the deceased student’s next of kin.
There may be additional, unforeseen circumstances when we believe it is in the best interest of the student to notify a parent or guardian. We reserve the right to act in such cases on our own best judgment, framed within the approach to emergency contact and parental/guardian notification stated above.
1The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99)
Accreditations and Authorizations
The California Institute of Technology is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Ave., Ste. 100, Alameda, CA 94501; (510) 748-9001. In addition, the Institute is authorized by the California State Department of Education, Office of Private Postsecondary Education, to operate as a private postsecondary educational institution and, by the same agency, to train veterans in the programs of the Veterans Administration.
The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc. (111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012; 410-347-7700), has accredited Caltech’s B.S. program in mechanical engineering. Further, the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society has approved Caltech’s B.S. program in chemistry.
The documents describing these accreditations and authorizations are on file and may be inspected in the Registrar’s Office and the Provost’s Office; the office of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science also has the documentation for ABET.
Student Problem Resolution Process
Caltech provides a variety of routes, most of them informal, by which students may bring complaints, which do not fall within the jurisdiction of other Policies or the Honor System, for consideration and resolution. For example, in academic matters, students may begin with faculty-student conversations that may extend to the deans, the option representatives, the division chairs, the registrar, or to various committees having faculty and student members. Non-academic matters can be dealt with informally by student leaders, resident associates, residential life coordinators, deans, and other student affairs offices. The Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) may become involved in some complaints, and sometimes ad hoc groups are formed to make recommendations.
The Problem-Resolution Process (Process) is intended to deal with complaints by currently enrolled students for which reasonable efforts by the available informal routes have not led to an acceptable resolution.
The first step in this Process is for the student to consult with the appropriate deans. One of the deans will then determine if the issue falls under this Process and, if appropriate, may appoint a facilitator to help resolve the issue. If the student’s issue involves a decision or action of a dean, the vice president for student affairs or designee may appoint a facilitator to help resolve the issue.
A facilitator will assist the student in trying to work out the problem. If the student is not satisfied with the results, the student may file a written notice of appeal to the vice president for student affairs or their designee. The decision of the vice president or designee is final.
If a student has a complaint about Caltech’s compliance with academic program quality and accrediting standards that they believe warrants further attention after exhausting the steps outlined above, they may contact the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) at www.wscuc.org/comments. WASC is the academic accrediting body for Caltech. An individual may contact the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) for review of a complaint. BPPE may be contacted at 2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95833, website: www.bppe.ca.gov; telephone: (916) 431-6959; fax: (916) 263-1897. Prospective students may contact WASC or the BPPE with complaints as well.
Student Patent and Computer Software Agreement
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has a responsibility to see that inventions and copyrightable materials (including software) developed in connection with Caltech be used for the public benefit, and be consistent with Caltech’s contractual obligations. In view of the patent and copyright policies of Caltech in force on this date and as may from time to time be amended, and my use of and access to Caltech facilities and equipment, I agree to the following:
Caltech retains all rights in inventions and computer software I generate as a student at the Caltech campus, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and other facilities owned or managed by Caltech, with the following exceptions:
1. When I generate copyrightable computer software or other written work at Caltech in connection with my enrollment in Caltech’s educational program, such as in course work, homework, theses and publications, I understand that I will retain ownership of copyrights to these works, and I hereby grant to Caltech an irrevocable royalty-free nonexclusive license to use such computer software and written work for educational and research purposes, including the right to grant sublicenses. If the work is generated at JPL or any Caltech owned or managed facility, I also hereby grant to the United States Government (“Government”) a royalty-free, nonexclusive license to use such computer software and written work for purposes for or on behalf of the Government, to the extent Caltech or the Government requires such a license.
2. When I make inventions, write computer software or other written work entirely on my own time, without using Caltech’s equipment or facilities (other than incidental use of electronic information resources as is permitted under Caltech policy), and without using Caltech funds, I retain ownership of those inventions, software and written work.
I agree to assign, and hereby do assign, to Caltech all inventions and copyrightable materials that I develop with the use of funds administered by Caltech, or in the course of my duties at or for Caltech, including JPL, or with use of other facilities owned or managed by Caltech, apart from those for which I retain rights under numbered paragraphs 1 and 2 of this agreement, and all copyrights, patent applications and patents relating to those inventions and copyrightable materials.
I agree to execute all papers required to apply for, obtain, maintain, issue and enforce the assigned copyright registrations, patents and applications; and to provide reasonable assistance regarding those copyrights, patents and patent applications, including testifying in any related patent office proceeding, dispute or litigation. Expenses for the copyrights and patent applications, and for the assistance set forth in the preceding sentence, shall be borne entirely by Caltech.
I agree to notify Caltech promptly of all such assigned inventions or copyrightable materials.
I understand that if Caltech receives funds from the licensing of the assigned copyrightable materials or patents in excess of unreimbursed expenses associated with obtaining, maintaining and enforcing those copyrights and patents, I will share in these funds according to the established Caltech policy, procedures and practice in effect on the date that the patent application is filed or the computer software is completed, in the same manner as a member of the academic staff and employees.
I agree to notify Caltech of any funding of which I am aware that may have supported an assigned invention described in the preceding paragraphs. This is to ensure Caltech’s compliance with its obligations, including the provisions of the Federal Bayh-Dole Act and implementing regulations. For work done at JPL, I agree to have all scientific and technical publications reviewed, pursuant to JPL policy, prior to public release to ensure compliance with U.S. export control laws.
I understand that Caltech relies on this agreement when it enters into contracts with others and obligates itself with respect to inventions and computer software developed at Caltech.
Student Retention and Persistence Rates
Most undergraduates enter Caltech at the first-year level. Of the 225 first-year students enrolled during the 2020-21 academic year, 223 reenrolled in the first term of the 2021-22 academic year and are progressing, yielding a persistence rate* of 99 percent after all allowable exclusions. Of the 241 first-year students enrolled during the 2014-15 academic year, 223 graduated by June 2021, yielding a graduation rate for this group of 93 percent after allowable exclusions.
At the graduate level, most students enter Caltech to pursue either the degree of Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy or, occasionally, both. Of the 238 entering graduate students enrolled in a Ph.D. program during the 2020-21 academic year, 229 reenrolled in the first term of the 2020-21 academic year and are making satisfactory academic progress, resulting in a persistence rate* of 96 percent. Of the 7 entering graduate students enrolled in M.S. programs during the 2020-21 academic year, 2 earned a terminal M.S. degree within one year and one completed the M.S. degree and continued in the Ph.D. program.
Caltech is committed to providing its students, faculty and staff with an environment that promotes safe and responsible social interaction. Caltech recognizes that student activities are an important part of campus life. Students are required to follow Event Planning Procedures: spa.caltech.edu.