FERPA is The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law (20 U.S.C. 1232g) that protects the privacy of a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all educational institutions receiving funds from the United States Department of Education, from kindergarten through university level.
This page is intended to collect information about FERPA for UWF constituents for their reference and convenience.
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At the University of West Florida, the privacy of academic records is also protected by Florida Statute Section 1002.22 (2007). The U.S. Department of Education summarizes the rights afforded to students by FERPA as follows:
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.
Examples of an academic record include, but are not limited to:
Academic records do not include:
If a student is attending a postsecondary institution - at any age - the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school. Additionally, the postsecondary institution may disclose personally identifiable information from the student’s education records to the parents, without the consent of the eligible student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under the IRS rules.
Please see the Office of the Registrar FERPA site for details.
Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), you have the right to withhold disclosure of the information listed below. The following items are designated as "Directory Information" and may be released by this University to non-institutional persons or organizations:
Your request to withhold directory information will be honored. The University will not assume responsibility to contact you for subsequent permission for release of these items. The University assumes no liability for honoring your request that such information be withheld.
Yes. If you have indicated Privacy in the Contact and Privacy Information app in MyUWF, we cannot print your name in the program. You will need to uncheck that box and save very early in the semester of your graduation to ensure that your name will be printed.
Withholding your Directory Information prevents UWF from disclosing to the general public any information from student educational records which is designated as "directory information." See Privacy section of Using the Contact and Privacy Info Wizard.
The Full Confidentiality Hold is used only in rare circumstances. Your entire educational record will be suppressed (this includes the Directory Information listed above). But, in addition, all conversations about your educational record must be conducted in person or via your UWF email account. We cannot discuss your record with you (or anyone you designate) over the phone, fax, regular mail, or any email address other than your official UWF email account.
No. If your daughter has authorized us to discuss her records with you and she now has the Full Confidentiality Hold, all conversations about her educational record must be done in person.
FERPA Frequently Asked Questions - FERPA for Parents and Eligible Students - Family Policy Compliance Office - US Department of Education
No. The UWF student roster contains the students' photos and IDs.
When you receive a request from a student about the status of their grade or work in the course you can respond as appropriate. To ensure compliance with FERPA, you should only send back to the official UWF email - email@example.com. By only responding to the UWF email, we know that the student has to authenticate to access their UWF email which for us is a form of authenticating their identity. It is very much like them being there in person and asking for that information.
If for any reason you are uncomfortable with the information being asked of you, you can err on the side of caution. It can be acceptable for those on-campus students to indicate to the student that you would prefer they come in person or just provide back to the student that they are currently passing the course. If there is a failing grade or area of concern, it may be better to advise the student to make an appointment (in-person or online if applicable) during office hours to discuss their grade.
This is only acceptable if the grades are associated with a randomly generated numeric identifier known and available only to you and the student; this list must not be arranged by alphabetic order. Never post the list using Social Security numbers or UWF IDs.
It is possible that you will receive inquiries from UWF offices charged with tracking certain student populations. Some of the more common inquiries will come from Athletics (Compliance or Student Support) or the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC). These are very legitimate inquiries and under FERPA you are able to share information as appropriate.
Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person's personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student.
However, if personally identifiable information obtained from a student's educational record is included in the letter of recommendation (grades, GPA, etc.), the writer - whether a faculty member or department employee - is required to obtain a signed release from the student which (1) specifies the records that may be disclosed, (2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made. If this letter of recommendation is kept on file by the person writing it, it would be part of the student's educational record, and the student has the right to read it unless he or she has waived that right to access.
Sample student release -
I give permission to Prof. Smith to write a letter of recommendation to:
324 Wilkins Drive
Atlanta, GA 33011
Prof Smith has my permission to include my GPA and grades.
I waive (or do not waive) my right to review a copy of this letter at any time in the future.
Please see the Office of the Registrar FERPA site for details.
FERPA does not assume that all school officials have a legitimate educational interest in all student records. To assume they do would effectively render the statutory requirement meaningless.
However, a “legitimate educational interest” exists if the school official needs to have access to the records in order to do his or her job—which does not necessarily depend on the student’s area of study. Section 99.7(a)(3)(iii) of FERPA requires each institution to include in its annual notice to students if it has a policy of disclosing education records under section 99.31(a)(1), and a specification of criteria for determining what constitutes a school official and what constitutes a legitimate educational interest.
The FERPA statute has always required that school officials’ access to the education records of a particular student or category of students be limited to circumstances where the official has a legitimate educational interest in those records. Given the ubiquity of electronic records, the FERPA regulations were amended in 2009 to clarify and reinforce the “legitimate educational interest” requirement (see sec. 99.31(a)(1)(ii))—whether the records were hardcopies or electronic.
So, if you are unsure we suggest you pick up the Phone and contact the Office of the Registrar for Assistance. We will help you work through the inquiry and determine if it meets this criteria.
The answer is perhaps. It would be a FERPA violation to include information about any student who has directed the university not to release his/her information. Additionally, without advance written consent, it would be a violation to disclose grades or performance indicators for any student. If you obtain written permission from each student, it would be permissible to include the information. The department would need to retain the written permission as documentation about the release.
All requests for student information, whether by subpoena, court order or authorization, should be sent to the Office of the Registrar for review and processing. If the request calls for more information than is available directly from the Office of the Registrar, those materials will be gathered together under the direction of the Office of General Counsel and submitted as a package in response to the request. Do not be intimidated by a badge. Refer all inquiries to the Office of the Registrar.
Yes. FERPA permits the disclosure of information from student educational records "to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." For example, if a student sends an email to his resident assistant disclosing that he has just been diagnosed with a highly contagious disease such as measles, the institution could alert the student's roommate, and perhaps others with whom the student has come in close contact, to urge them to seek appropriate testing and medical care. Safety concerns warranting disclosure could include a student's suicidal statements or ideations, unusually erratic and angry behaviors, or similar conduct that others would reasonably see as posing a risk of serious harm to the student and to others.
This exception does not authorize "broadcast" disclosures, but a limited disclosure to a limited number of people, made in good-faith, in light of the facts available at the time. Such disclosure is highly unlikely to be deemed a violation of FERPA, even if the perceived emergency later turns out not to have been one. In general and when reasonably possible, the initial disclosure should be made to professionals trained to evaluate and handle such emergencies, such as campus mental health or law enforcement personnel, who can then determine whether further and broader disclosures are appropriate.
The Federal Family Policy Compliance Office reviews and investigates complaints of violations of FERPA. If the Secretary of Education finds that an institution has failed to comply with FERPA and determines that compliance cannot be secured by any means, he/she can, among other options, direct that no federal funds under his or her administrative control (financial aid, education grants, etc.) be made available to that institution.
FERPA Frequently Asked Questions - FERPA for School Officials - Family Policy Compliance Office - US Department of Education