This tutorial is a learning tool designed to provide faculty and staff with a better understanding of the rights that FERPA gives to students to make decisions regarding their records and the contents of those records held by the University, as well as the obligations that FERPA places on faculty and staff to protect student information.
The tutorial is not an exhaustive treatise on the topic of FERPA, but it does address the essential elements the FERPA regulations and applicable University policy. Specific questions or concerns regarding FERPA should be directed to the University’s Privacy Officer.
Once you have finished the tutorial, you may fill out the Online Completion Form. This will create a record that you have indeed completed the tutorial.
Questions regarding the interpretation and implementation of FERPA may be directed to:
Rachel Krinsky RudnickUniversity Privacy Officer(860) firstname.lastname@example.org
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was originally enacted by Congress in 1974. The statute applies to any educational agency or institution that receives federal funding; this includes, then, nearly all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Education has occasionally amended and updated FERPA’s regulatory requirements since the Act was originally enacted. The overarching purpose of FERPA, however, has continued to be the protection of confidentiality regarding a student’s educational records, as well as the right of a student to make certain decisions regarding their information.
The term “education records” means “any records maintained in any form or medium by the University that are directly related to a student.” This includes paper documents, files, electronic records, audio, video, photographs and any other materials which contain information directly related to a student, and are maintained by any employee or agent of the University.
All students who have enrolled at the University of Connecticut are considered “eligible students” regardless of age or type of program they attend at the University. This means that the rights of the students and obligations of faculty and staff to protect the privacy in the education records of the students applies even if the student has not yet reached the age of majority (usually age 18).
Mr. and Mrs. Jones have always been proud of Mark, their extremely bright 14-year old son. Last August, they enrolled Mark as a full-time student at the University of Connecticut (as he had graduated from high school the previous spring). Mark never talks about his experience at UConn, however, and his parents have never seen him study. Finally, without Mark’s knowledge, Mr. and Mrs. Jones contacted the University and demanded to see all the education records UConn is maintaining about Mark.
Should the University disclose Mark’s education records to his parents?
As Mark is enrolled at the University of Connecticut, he is, under FERPA, an “eligible student”. That means that Mark, and not his parents, is the one who has the right to inspect and review his education records and make decisions about sharing the contents of records. He may, if he chooses, authorize UConn to disclose his education records to his parents. Parents are the ones who have the rights to inspection, review and decision-making regarding the education records of their child when the student is enrolled in primary and secondary education. However, the “eligible student” is the one who holds those FERPA rights at the university level, even if they are a minor.
FERPA is clear in affording a college or university student the authority to release education records. Even a student’s spouse does not have the right of access to education records without the student’s consent.
As Mark is enrolled at the University of Connecticut. He is therefore considered to be an “eligible student” under FERPA. That means that Mark, and not his parents, has the right to inspect and review his education records even though he is a minor. He may, if he chooses, authorize UConn to disclose his education records to his parents.
Parents are the ones who have the rights to inspection, review and decision-making regarding the education records of their child when the student is enrolled in primary and secondary education. However, the “eligible student” is the one who holds those FERPA rights at the university level, even if they are a minor.
These things are NOT considered to be part of a student's educational record:
Under FERPA, each institution may designate what it considers as "Directory Information" and under what circumstance those data elements may be disclosed. This is called the University's "Limited Directory Information policy." Generally speaking, "Directory Information" is information from student records that can be given out to third parties without first acquiring a student's consent. This information is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. If the information being requested is not "Directory Information" or if the data element requested does not meet the parameters of the University's Limited Directory Information policy, then it cannot be given out to third parties without the student's prior written consent. This also applies in situations where you may be speaking with the student on the phone. You should not release Non-Directory Information to students during a phone conversation when you cannot verify that it is actually the student calling.
UConn's Limited Directory Information Policy has three (3) parts.
1. Category #1: These items from student educational records are considered Directory Information that can be released to anyone who requests or is looking to confirm the information:
2. Category #2: In addition to the data elements in Category 1, the following information can be released, but only to the UConn Foundation and the UConn Law School Foundation:
3. Category #3: Members of the University community who have a NetID (including faculty, staff, students, and affiliates) may utilize certain systems (the online directory and email systems) to access student email addresses. However, the access and use of the student email addresses sought must be for University-related purposes, may not be accessed and/or used for commercial purposes, and may not be accessed and/or used in any manner that would otherwise violate University policy.
Consider this hypothetical situation
The star of the Men's Basketball team is a student in one of your classes. An article in the newspaper suggests that he's struggling academically and might not be eligible to compete next season. You run into a colleague in the hall who asks if the student is going to pass your class. Can you tell your colleague how the student is doing?
The University may disclose an education record to another University Official if that official has a legitimate educational interest in viewing the record.
A University Official has a “legitimate educational interest” if it is necessary for the official to obtain the information in order to carry out his or her official duties or to implement the policies of the University of Connecticut. In this case, the colleague does not need the information to do his or her job, so it is not appropriate to share the information.
Students may restrict the release of Directory Information, except to school officials with legitimate educational interests and under certain other exceptions as permitted by FERPA. To do so, a student must make the request in writing to the Office of the Registrar. Such requests only apply to subsequent actions of the University and shall remain in place until removed by written request of the student.
The names of students who have restricted the release of Directory Information will not appear in such University publications as the Commencement Program or the Dean’s List and requests for transcripts and enrollment or degree verification for those students must be made by the student in person with a photo ID.
The recommended response to requests for information on students who have requested that Directory Information not be released is “I have no information on that individual.”
The FERPA Restriction in the University’s Student Administration System is represented by this symbol:
You may hear some employees refer to the FERPA Restriction for a given student as a “FERPA Shade,” since the symbol that represents this restriction resembles a closed window shade.
This is an example of a record from the Student Administration System with a “FERPA Restriction.”
True or False
Admissions records are “education records” and therefore covered under FERPA.
FERPA does not apply to Admission’s applicants unless the student is admitted and has registered. At that time, they are then considered “enrolled” and FERPA applies to their higher educational record and everything including their Admission’s application and materials is included.
It is the University of Connecticut’s practice not to release information on applicants without the applicant’s permission, except when required by law.
Students have five basic rights under FERPA.
Their first right:
Students have a right to inspect and review their educational records. We cannot destroy records once they are requested and we must respond to all requests within 45 days.
Students do not have the right under FERPA to: inspect financial records of parents; letters of recommendation when the student has waived their right of access; or information about other students.
Their second right:
Students have the right to request that their educational records be amended if they believe something is inaccurate. Offices must have a consistent process to handle these situations. If based upon that process, the University decides it will not make the changes that a student has indicated they believe to be inaccurate, the student has a right to have a written statement or explanation commenting upon the information in the record they believe to be inaccurate included with those records.
Their third right:
Except where specifically enumerated in the FERPA regulations, the University is prohibited from sharing education records or discussing the contents of, or learned from, education records without the explicit prior written consent of the student. The institution must keep a record of requests and disclosures of non-directory information except when the request is from the student or when the student has given written consent.
The University may release the following information or records about a student without first acquiring prior written consent when it involves one of the following situations:
Their fourth and fifth rights:
University of Connecticut's FERPA policy
If you would like to record your completion of the FERPA On-Line Tutorial, please complete the information below and then submit your information to the Office of the Registrar as confirmation.
Please enter your name, UConn e-mail address, department and title. When you have completed this form, click on the “Submit” button to send the information via e-mail.