Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
A Guide for University of Denver Employees
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect
the privacy of student education records. The Act provides for the
right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to
amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information
from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the
rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education
records. The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of
federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.
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 DU receives a request for access. Students should submit
to the Office of the Registrar written requests that identify the records
they wish to inspect. The Office of the Registrar will arrange access (coordinating
with appropriate offices) and notify the student of the time and place
where records may be inspected.
- The right to request an amendment to the students education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the Office of the Registrar, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
If DU decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, we will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing will be provided to the student when notified of a hearing.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the students education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. The University of Denver defines school officials as follows:
University officials with legitimate educational interests include the following a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her institutional duties.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures of DU to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-4605
Who is protected under FERPA?
Students who are currently or formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency. Students who have applied to but have not attended DU and deceased students do not come under FERPA guidelines.
Parents of students termed as dependent for income tax purposes may have access to the students education records. The parent must attest to dependency status and file a form annually with the Office of the Registrar.
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. A student has the right of access to these records.
Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, magnetic media, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school at which a student was previously enrolled.
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; and
- records that contain information about an individual obtained only after that person is no longer a student, i.e., alumni records.
What is directory information?
Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA if it has designated that information as directory information. DU designates the following as directory information: the student's name, addresses, telephone numbers, electronic mail addresses, photographic images, date and place of birth, major field of study, full-time or part-time status, class (e.g., graduate, sophomore, junior), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, anticipated date of graduation, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student.
DU designates directory information solely to perform specific institutional functions. DU does not release any directory information (such as addresses and telephone numbers) to third parties except to conduct these functions. Contact the Office of the Registrar for additional information.
May a student request that directory information not be released?
Any student wishing that directory information not be released must submit a Request to Withhold Information form to the Office of the Registrar. Requests must be submitted each fall.
How do I know if a student has requested that directory information not be released? What do I do?
When using the Banner information system, a pop-up window will appear when
accessing information for students who have requested that directory information
be suppressed. The pop-up window states: Warning: Information about this information
is confidential. An indication that the student information is confidential
will appear on Banner web screens and on many Banner reports.
If a student has requested that directory information not be released, no
information about that student should be shared with any third party (i.e.,
the student or anyone who is not a University Official). Academic and student
service departments should require that the student present in person with
a picture identification to conduct business. Business should not be conducted
over the telephone. If any third party should request any information about
the student, the University employee should state “there is no information
available for that individual.” Direct inquiries to the Office of the
How does a student authorize release of his or her education record in the form of an academic transcript?
Students must authorize the release of their transcripts by written requests with signatures or by completing and signing a transcript request form available in the Office of the Registrar. Students may now order transcripts on the web through their webCentral accounts. Official transcripts cost $5. A written request via fax with signature to release an education record is permissible. E-mail requests are not acceptable.
Who may have access to student information?
- The student and any outside party who has the students written authorization;
- school officials (defined above) who have legitimate educational interests;
- parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code; and
- a person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as DU first makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student. Normally, DU will comply with a subpoena after two weeks have elapsed from the day the subpoena was received. All subpoenas and court orders for student information should be referred to the Office of the Registrar. Law enforcement officials seeking student information should be referred immediately to the University Counsel (x14646) or the Office of the Registrar (x13897).
- the Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes may receive directory-type information including: student name, addresses, telephone listings, date and place of birth, level of education, degrees received, prior military experience, and the most recent previous education institution enrolled in.
- DU may notify parents or guardians when a dependent student under the age of 21 is placed on judicial probation or suspended or dismissed.
How do I know if a student has released educational records to a third party such as a parent?
Students information releases are recorded in the Banner system by the Office of the Registrar. iBanner users may view releases on the DU FERPA Information Release Form (SZAFRPA) form. Faculty and advisers may see if a release is place using webCentral Faculty & Adviser self-service. The form shows the valid period for the release; the specific information (e.g., grades) that may be released, and the party to whom the information may be released.
Educational records should never be shared with any third party (including parents) if a release is not in place.
There are two blanket releases that are not recorded on SZAFRPA. Varsity athletes sign a standard release provided by the NCAA that authorizes release of information to the NCAA and other parties for athletes. Foreign students sign a release to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office as part of their I-20 form. Inquiries from NCAA should be referred to the Department of Athletics. Inquiries from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should be referred to the Office of Internationalization.
When is the students consent not required to disclose information?
When the disclosure is:
- to school officials (defined above) 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 accrediting organizations;
- to parents of a dependent student;
- to comply with a judicial order or subpoena;
- in a health or safety emergency;
- releasing directory information;
- releasing the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.
Other than sharing information with individuals to whom the student has signed a release, these needs should be coordinated through the Office of the Registrar.
Outside contractors may perform work as the Universitys agent under specific circumstances. Contact the Office of the Registrar for additional information.
How does Banner affect FERPA at DU?
The Banner information system is an integrated database with information on constituents of all types applicants, students, alumni, friends, employees, vendors, etc. Many benefits come from this integration. Personally identifiable information is made available to University employees for the sole and explicit purpose of allowing them to carry out their official University functions. Any other use is prohibited. The same principles of confidentiality that apply to paper records also apply to electronic data. It is the responsibility of each school official to understand his or her legal responsibilities under FERPA and other privacy regulations at the University of Denver. Failure to adhere to privacy regulations can result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
How may I use information from the DU data reporting views, the DU Operational Data Store or Enterprise Data Warehouse?
These data tools are made available for specific communication tasks and internal reporting. Specific policies exist for use of data from these tools. Contact the Office of the Registrar or University Technology Services for additional information.
How do I get additional information about FERPA?
The Office of the Registrar administers FERPA for the University of Denver. All inquiries regarding FERPA should be referred to:
The Office of the Registrar
University of Denver
2197 S. University Blvd., Room G45
Denver, CO 80208
This information was adapted from material in the AACRAO 2001 FERPA Guide. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. 2001