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FERPA and Student Privacy

Page history last edited by MC 10 years, 8 months ago

From the Registrar's website, registrar.utexas.edu/students/records/ferpa


General FERPA Information


What is FERPA?

FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to educational records. The law, also known as the Buckley Amendment, applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the US Department of Education. Go to www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco to learn more.


To whom does FERPA apply?

At UT Austin, FERPA rights apply to students. A student is a person who is or has been in attendance at the institution, regardless of the person's age.


What is directory information?

FERPA identifies certain information, called directory information, that may be disclosed without the student's permission. The university has designated the following information as directory information:


  • Student's name
  • Local, permanent, and email addresses
  • UT eid public username
  • Telephone listing
  • Place of birth
  • Major fields of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Degrees, awards, and honors received, including selection criteria
  • Most recently attended previous educational institution
  • Classification
  • Expected graduation date
  • Participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height, if a member of an athletic team
  • Student parking permit information
  • Job title and dates of employment when employed by the university in a position that requires student status


Students have the right to restrict access to individual pieces or all of their directory information.


FERPA Questions Specific to Faculty


May I access confidential information about students?

Access to personally identifiable information contained in educational records may be given to appropriate university administrators, faculty members, or staff members and appropriate administrators or staff members of the Texas Exes who require this access to perform their legitimate educational duties. Faculty members do not have access to student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access. This type of access is termed "legitimate educational interest."


How does FERPA affect letters of recommendation?

Writing a letter of recommendation may require express, written permission from the student to allow you to 1) access the student's educational records and 2) disclose confidential information about the student to a third party. A faculty member may access a student's educational records without the student's express written permission only if specific job duties, such as the duties of an academic advisor, require access to those records. However, a faculty member, or any other appropriate university official, may not disclose confidential information from a student's educational records to a third party without express, written permission from the student. Personal observations about a student may be disclosed without the student's consent. 


What information may I disclose to parents?

Without the express, written permission of the student, parents, like all other third parties, may have access only to the student's directory information. If a student has restricted his or her directory information, then directory information is also considered confidential.


Does FERPA affect the return of assignments?

Personally identifiable information about a student may not be disclosed without the student's express, written permission. Therefore, extreme care should be used to protect such information when returning assignments to students.


Does FERPA affect the posting of grades?

University policy prohibits the disclosure of any confidential student information in a personally identifiable manner without the student's written consent. Faculty members may use student-specific, password-protected systems (such as UT Direct and its applications) to communicate academic work grades or other confidential information to students on an individual basis. Students may also access their final course grades using UT Direct services. The university's eGradebook application provides faculty members with a password-protected system to communicate academic work grades to individual students.


How do I properly dispose of confidential information?

Dispose of all material containing confidential information (such as tests, papers, class rosters) by shredding or placing them in a receptacle intended for the collection of material to be disposed of in a secure manner.


Whom should I contact with questions or concerns?

Direct general questions to University Compliance Services, the vice president for student affairs, or the registrar, as appropriate.



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