Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Annual Notice of Rights Under FERPA

 

What is FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)?
What are education records?
What is personally identifiable information?
Who has access to student education records?
Do students have a right to inspect, review, and/or correct their records?
Where are education records located and who are the custodians?
What is directory information?
Can directory information be restricted?

Comments/Questions
Filing a complaint
Additional Resources

What is FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act)?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.
 

What are education records?

An education record is any record directly related to a student that is maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

Education records do not include:

  • Sole possession records that are used only as memory aids and not shared with others
  • Law enforcement unit records
  • Employment records, unless the employment is dependent on the employee’s status as a student (such as graduate assistants)
  • Medical records
  • Records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at that agency or institution

What is personally identifiable information?

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Personally identifiable information is any information — directory and non-directory information — that can easily be traced to the student or distinguishes the student’s identity.

Some examples of information that may not be released without prior written consent of the student are:

  • date of birth
  • citizenship 
  • disciplinary status 
  • ethnicity 
  • gender 
  • grade point average (GPA) 
  • marital status 
  • SSN/student I.D. 
  • grades/exam scores 
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.) 
  • progress reports (degree audit)

Who has access to student education records?

Sul Ross State University (SRSU) will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization permitting access or the parent can demonstrate that the student is a dependant for IRS tax purposes. Exceptions allowed under FERPA include: access by "University officials" who the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest;" access for the purpose of awarding financial aid; and access for the purpose of complying with subpoenas or court orders.

At SRSU, "University officials" are any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, a person elected to the Board of Regents, a student serving on an official university committee, or a person employed by or under contract to the university to perform a specific task. A "university official" has a "legitimate educational interest" whenever he or she is performing a task that is specified in his or her position or by a contract agreement in support of the student's education.

 

Do students have a right to inspect, review, and/or correct their records?

Students are allowed access to their educational records as follows:

  • A student may inspect his or her academic transcript during normal working hours
  • A mutually convenient time will be arranged within 5-10 working days after receipt of the request for the student to examine the records in his or her file 
  • At that time the student may examine all educational records in his or her file with the exception of those specifically exempted by Part 99 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
  • The student may obtain copies of any of the records available to him or her  

All reasonable requests for explanations or interpretations of the educational records will be honored, and if inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate data are found in these records, they will be promptly corrected or deleted.
 

Where are education records located and who are the custodians?

TYPE LOCATION CUSTODIAN
 Academic records  Office of the Registrar  University Registrar
 Academic advising records  Colleges and major departments  College Deans and academic department Chairs
 Financial Aid records  Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships  Financial Aid Director
 Financial records  Accounting Services  Director of Accounting Services

What is directory information? 

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent. Directory information is the information available about a student that is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. While FERPA and SRSU policy protect the privacy of educational records, directory information is not treated as confidential and may be released without prior consent unless the student has submitted a request to restrict the release.

SRSU has designated the following information as directory information:

  • Student's name
  • Address
  • Telephone listing
  • Sul Ross email address
  • Date and place of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Classification
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • the most recent educational agency or institution attended

All other information in a student record that is not listed as SRSU Directory Information is considered confidential information and may not be released without the student’s prior written consent.

 

Can directory information be restricted?

According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request. At SRSU, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information must complete a Request to Withhold or Reverse Withholding of Directory Information form and submit to the Office of the Registrar.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that this action could have negative consequences. The names of students who have restricted their directory information will not appear in the commencement bulletin or other university publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees, etc. will be denied access to any information and will be told: "I'm sorry, but we have no information regarding this person."

 

Annual notification to students

Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, SRSU’s annual notification to students is available here.

 

Comments/Questions

Questions, comments or suggestions may be directed to the Office of the Registrar, LH 213, registrar@sulross.edu.

 

Filing a Complaint

Students who feel that the institution has not fully honored their privacy rights under FERPA may submit a complaint to the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment Management at (432) 837-8343. The Office of the Vice President for Enrollment Management investigates each timely complaint to determine if the institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA.

 

Additional Resources

Additional FERPA resources can be found at:

FERPA for Parents and Eligible Students - Family Policy Compliance Office
 

Please note: These pages have been developed by the Office of the Registrar to provide general information about the law and procedures related to accessing confidential student information and to provide guidance on commonly asked questions or situations faced by faculty, staff, students and parents. These pages are for information purposes only; this information is not university policy nor is it intended as legal advice.