The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law which protects the privacy and confidentiality of student educational records. FERPA applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The University of Montevallo is committed to adhering to the requirements established under FERPA. Please watch the Student Privacy 101 video and read the FERPA Overview below.
Who is protected under FERPA?
A person becomes a student for purposes of FERPA when they are considered “in attendance” at an institution. Therefore, FERPA covers any current or former student that has been enrolled for at least the first day of classes for any term. Students that have been admitted but have never attended would not be covered under FERPA.
What are education records?
With certain exceptions, an education record is any record (1) from which a student can be personally identified and (2) maintained by the University. Education records can exist in any media (handwritten, electronic, print, magnetic tape, film, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.
Are education records confidential?
With certain limited exceptions, education records are confidential and cannot be disclosed without the prior written consent of the student. Common examples of confidential information include:
- Social Security number
- Student Identification number (UM ID)
- Test scores
- Class lists
- Student class schedules
- Disciplinary records
- Student financial records
- Gender, race, ethnicity, and/or nationality
- Religious affiliation
- Marital status
What is not included in an education record?
- Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel
- Law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit
- Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless contingent upon attendance)
- Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment
- Records of an institution that contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution, i.e., alumni records
What rights does FERPA afford students with respect to their education records?
- The right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the day the university receives a request for access
- The right to request an amendment to the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading
- The right to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with the requirements of FERPA
- FERPA requires that institutions notify students of their rights under FERPA annually, which is communicated by the Registrar’s Office via a broadcast email. For more information concerning your rights under FERPA, visit Student Rights Under FERPA.
What is Directory Information?
An institution may disclose some information without prior written consent of the student to non-affiliated third parties if it has designated such information as “directory information.” A student has the right to prevent the disclosure of their directory information. For more information, visit Directory Information.
When can personally identifiable information from a student’s educational record be disclosed without written consent?
When the disclosure is:
- To school officials (defined in policy) who have a legitimate educational interest
- To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs
- In connection with financial aid; this includes Veterans’ benefits
- To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions
- To accrediting organizations
- To parents of a dependent student claimed as such on the most recent tax return
- To comply with a judicial order or subpoena
- In connection with a health or safety emergency
- Releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence
- Can a student grant authorization for the release of information from their education record to parents or other individuals?
- Yes. Please refer to Record Release Authorization for more information.
FERPA Addendum for Software Vendors
Privacy While Using Online Educational Services
U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office