FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Protect our students while we protect ourselves.
To be allowed access to student records, you must carefully review the material presented in this tutorial. Maintaining confidentiality of student records is everyone's responsibility whether you are faculty, staff or student.
- Because it's the right thing to do.
- Because the Federal government requires us to do so.
This tutorial is designed to give you basic knowledge of the rules governing release of student information.
For more information on FERPA, see this overview either before or after taking the quiz.
What is FERPA?+
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called the Buckley Amendment). Passed by Congress in 1974, the Act grants four specific rights to the adult student:
- the right to see the information that the institution is keeping on the student
- the right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases append a statement to the record
- the right to consent to disclosure of his/her records
- the right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington
What is a Student Educational Record?+
Just about any information provided about a student to the university for use in the educational process is considered a student educational record:
- personal information
- enrollment records
The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. Student educational record may be:
- a document in the Office of the Registrar
- a computer printout in your office
- a class list on your desktop
- a computer display screen
- notes you have taken during an advisement session
What are the Basic Rules?+
Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.
Some information is considered public and is sometimes called “Directory Information.” This information can be released without the student's written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well, and that record will be flagged in the SIS causing a special screen to appear when information is requested about the student. Directory Information is: name, address, e-mail address, phone number, date and place of birth, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, major field of study, most recent previous school attended, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, height and weight of athletes and photograph.
You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee. Need to know is the basic principle.
If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you talk to the office responsible for student records. Call John J. Flynn at 205-726-2732, or refer the request to that office.
Special “Don’ts” for Faculty+
To avoid violations of FERPA rules, do not:
- at any time use any portion of the Student Number (which is usually the Social Security Number) of a student in a public posting of grades
- ever link the name of a student with that student's Student Number in any public manner
- leave graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
- circulate a printed class list with Student Number or grades as an attendance roster
- discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents) without the consent of the student
- provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose
- provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university employees in finding a student on campus
For a better understanding of the FERPA law, and to perhaps qualify for access to the Student Information System, please take the following: