FERPA resources

FERPA policies on access to student records

Federal law, state law, and regents' policy govern access to student records. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the State of Minnesota Data Practices Act form the backdrop for the University's policies on access to student records.

The Board of Regents Policy: Student Education Records governs our directory information and access to student records. Additional relevant University policies include Information Security policy and Managing Student Records.

FERPA Tutorial

Review this online tutorial to familiarize yourself with FERPA and the importance of protecting students' educational records.

General FERPA guidelines

The following practices will help ensure compliance with the various laws and regulations of FERPA: 

  • If in doubt, do not give out information. We have 30 days to respond to most legitimate requests.
  • Refer requests for information from the educational record to the appropriate education record custodian (e.g., registrar's office).
  • Share information within the University only with those who have a "legitimate educational interest." (Those with a "legitimate educational interest" are University employees who have a need to know in order to carry out their defined job functions.)
  • Do not post grades or return graded materials in such a way that one student can see or ascertain the grade of another. (See detailed information about safe handling of grading information.)
  • Obtain a student's written permission for any material put in a letter of recommendation. (Or give the letter to the student for distribution.)

Directory information (public) 

The following information is public, unless a student has requested non-disclosure (suppress):

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Dates of enrollment
  • Enrollment status (full/part time, or not enrolled)
  • Major
  • Advisor
  • College
  • Class
  • Academic awards and honors
  • Degree received

Students have two options for directory information suppression:

  1. Suppression of address and phone information
    If this option is chosen, address, email, and telephone number information will not be released to third parties, and name will not appear in University directories.
  2. Suppression of all directory information
    If this option is chosen, no information pertaining to attendance will be released.

Non-public (private) information

Information other than directory information is not public and may not be released except under certain, prescribed conditions. Non-releasable information includes:

  • Grades
  • Courses taken
  • Schedule
  • Test scores
  • Advising records
  • Educational services received
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Social security number
  • Student ID number

Personal records

Records kept by you for your own use are your personal records. These are not, formally, educational records; students have no rights to access. When records are shared, as in a central advising folder, these records become part of the formal educational record and are bound by all educational record regulations. (Personal records remain personal if they are used by a substitute in the absence of the instructor.)

Challenge to the substantive judgment of faculty members, about the quality of a student's work as expressed in grades or evaluations, is not within the purview of the privacy regulations.

Information requests

  • Do not look up information about students unless it is part of your job duty.
  • Check to see if the student has requested no disclosure before giving out any public information.
  • Official records (e.g., transcripts) should be sent by the office responsible for the record.
  • Note that a spouse, a parent, or an employer is not necessarily entitled to any more information than anyone else is. Please refer parental requests to the Office of the Registrar.
  • Refer requests for lists of students to the Office of the Registrar. The University is under no obligation to provide lists to outside agencies (exceptions being certain accreditation agencies). Where the offered service is real,— and is deemed important—, there typically are ways to accomplish the task.

Students' rights

Under FERPA, students have the right to:

  • Inspect and review information in their educational records
  • Request a correction to their record
  • Suppress the release of directory information
  • View a copy of the institutional policy

Students can file complaints with the US Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office.

Support

Stacey Tidball
Director, Continuity & Compliance
tidball@umn.edu