• FERPA Tutorial

    Overview

    To be allowed access to student records, you must carefully review the material presented here. Maintaining confidentiality of student records is everyone's responsibility, whether you are faculty, staff, or student. Why? Because it's the right thing to do and, more importantly, it's federal law. The tutorial is designed to give you base-level knowledge of the rules governing release of student information. 

    What Is FERPA?
    The Basic Rules
    What Is a Student Educational Record? 
    What is Directory Information?
    Special "Don'ts" for Faculty
    Special "Do’s" for Faculty 
    Additional Information 
     

    What Is FERPA?

    FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called the Buckley Amendment). Passed by Congress in 1974, the act grants four specific rights to the student:

    • The right to see the information that the institution is keeping on the student 
    • The right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases append a statement to the record
    • The right to consent to disclosure of his/her records
    • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, DC

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    The Basic Rules

    • Student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
    • As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect education records in your possession.
    • Some information is considered public (sometimes called "Directory Information"). Under the terms of FERPA, Hamline University has established these items as Directory Information, which may be released to those requesting it, unless the student specifically requests otherwise by completing a “nondisclosure form” with the Registrar.
    • You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee. "Need-to-know" is the basic principle.
    • If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar (Undergraduate and Graduate Schools at 651-523-2804 or ttraffie@hamline.edu and School of Law at 651-523-2130 or cclish01@hamline.edu). The Office of the Registrar is responsible for student record information.

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    What Is a Student Education Record?

    Just about any information provided by a student to the university for use in the educational process is considered a student education record, including:

    • Personal information
    • Enrollment records
    • Grades
    • Schedules

    The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. Student education record may be contained in the following media:

    • Documents in the registrar's office
    • Computer printouts in your office
    • Class lists on your desktop
    • Computer display screens
    • Notes you have taken during an advisement session

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    What is Directory Information?

    Under the terms of FERPA, Hamline University has established the following items as Directory Information, which may be released to those requesting it, unless the student specifically requests otherwise by completing a “nondisclosure form” with the Registrar.

    • Student name
    • Student ID number
    • Address
    • Email address
    • Telephone number
    • Date and place of birth
    • Dates of attendance
    • Class
    • Full-time or part-time status
    • Major and minor fields of study
    • Awards and honors (including Dean's list)
    • Degrees earned and dates conferred
    • Previous institutions attended
    • Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities
    • Physical factors (height and weight) of athletes
    • Photographs taken and maintained by the university for various purposes

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    Special “Don'ts” for Faculty

    To avoid violating FERPA rules, do not at any time:

    • Post grades using any part of a student's social security number or ID number.
    • Leave stacked graded papers for students to pick up -- not even in sealed envelopes (unless you have the student's permission to do so!).  Instead, mail graded papers/exams via campus or U.S. mail in envelopes that students pre-address, pre-stamp, and provide for you.
    • Circulate a printed class list for attendance purposes if it shows names and social security numbers or IDs.
    • Allow students to view, read, or record another student's social security number while in your work area.
    • Discuss student progress with anyone other than the student without the student's consent (this includes the student's parents and spouse!).
    • Provide anyone with a student's schedule or help anyone other than university employees find a student on campus (Safety & Security will assist -- call x2100).

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    Special “Do’s” for Faculty

    Make sure you protect all education records in your possession.  This includes paper documents in your office such as computer printouts, class lists, display screen data, and advising notes. These are practical tools that you need to do your job; however, they should be protected like you would protect a purse or wallet. You should not leave these items out in open areas, but store them out of sight, preferably in a locked cabinet or drawer when not in use.

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    Additional Information

    More information is available on the U.S. Department of Education FERPA website.

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