FERPA FAQs

FERPA indicates that an institution may release directory information to anyone, but there is no obligation to do so. Since students can restrict their directory information, you must check a student’s UAccess account for evidence of restriction prior to releasing information. When in doubt, do not release information and contact the Office of the Registrar for guidance.

Student judicial records containing information surrounding suspected violations of the Student Code of Conduct are protected by FERPA. The Dean of Student’s office will only release information contained in university judicial records under the following conditions:

  • Violations related to the possession/consumption of alcohol and/or drugs involving students under the age of 21
  • Serious health and safety concerns
  • Students have signed a FERPA release with the Dean of Students Office

 

Instructors are considered "school officials" and have access to basic information of students enrolled in their classes. Instructors may not access the educational records of students who are not currently enrolled in their classes without demonstrating a "legitimate educational interest" in such information.

All University of Arizona students, staff, and instructors are assigned a university managed email account to be utilized for purposes of official correspondence. Instructors may notify students of their individual grades via email, provided the email is sent from a university email account to a university email account. Notification of grades may also be made via the use of the University’s course management tool, Desire2Learn. In either case, students must provide their NetID and password to access their grades.

Students can grant parents and others access to their UAccess Student Center account. The guest account can be utilized by student-authorized individuals to view select student information, potentially including class schedules, financial aid disbursements, and final course grades. Guest access also provides the ability for guests to pay student tuition bills.

Leaving personally identifiable graded assignments (homework, quizzes, exams) unattended for students to view is a violation of FERPA. Instead, consider leaving the graded assignments with an assistant who will ask students for proper identification prior to returning the assignments.

It is a violation of FERPA to publicly post grades using the student's name, student identification number, or social security number. Instructors may assign students unique numbers or codes that can be used to post grades, but the order of the posting must not be alphabetic.

A student’s educational record is protected under FERPA. Parents will not have access to it unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies which information may be released to the parent. The presence of a parent affidavit permits you to disclose student record information, but you are under no obligation to do so or to speak to parents.

Students have a right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University of Arizona to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
 

Student Privacy Policy Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

The University may disclose to third parties any student information that is designated as directory information, provided the student has not restricted such information from disclosure. Students must request a restriction through UAccess, which will remain in effect until the student requests a change. Students who wish to have specific directory information released may do so by providing a written authorization to the Registrar's Office.

Students who wish to restrict their names should note the following:

  • Your name will not appear in university publications, including the commencement bulletin.
  • Third parties will be denied all your information and will be informed that the University has no information available about your attendance.

When deciding how long to hang on to completed work that was not returned to/picked up by the student, please refer to the University’s retention schedule.

Students have the right to inspect the contents of their educational records regardless of their financial status with the University. However, the University is not required to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.

The privacy rights of a student expire with that student’s death.

All subpoenas are reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel to determine the appropriate course of action. If you receive a subpoena, please contact the Office of General Counsel.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency, the University may release that information if it is determined to be "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors considered in making this assessment include but are not limited to the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved, the need for the information, the time required to deal with the emergency, and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

An educational record includes any information or data that is directly related to a student and maintained by the University or by a person acting for the University. This encompasses information or data recorded in any medium, including but not limited to electronic data, handwriting, print, tapes, email, microfilm, and microfiche.

Examples:

  • admissions information for students who are accepted and enrolled
  • biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, and identification photographs
  • communications in written, emailed, or recorded form that are part of the academic process or pertain to a student’s status
  • course work including papers, exams, grades, and evaluations
  • disciplinary records
  • internship program records
  • personal information shared through course assignments, class discussions, evaluations, and office hour visits
  • student financial and financial aid records
  • student identification number (SID)
  • student status details such as academic specialization and activities, class schedules, and courses taken

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as FERPA or the Buckley amendment, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive federal funding for any program administered by the Secretary of Education. FERPA also applies to private entities that contract to perform services for the University that it would otherwise undertake to perform on its own; in such cases, the private entity must observe the same FERPA protections applicable to the University. FERPA grants adult students (18 and older) the following rights:

  • The right to inspect and review their educational records
  • The right to seek the amendment of their educational records
  • The right to consent to the disclosure of their educational records
  • The right to obtain a copy of their school’s Student Records Policy
  • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, DC

Students who perform institutional functions may be deemed "school officials" with "legitimate educational interest" in accessing designated educational records of other students. The requirements and responsibilities for these student workers are the same as those that exist for full-time staff, therefore student workers must complete FERPA training.

What are the privacy rights of a deceased student? The privacy rights of a student expire with that student’s death.

  • University of Arizona law enforcement records
  • Employment records when the employment is not connected to student status (e.g., a staff member who happens to be pursuing a degree at the institution, as opposed to a student employed under the work-study program)
  • Medical and mental health records used only for treatment of the student
  • Alumni records which do not relate to or contain information about the person as a student (e.g., information collected by the University pertaining to alumni accomplishments)
  • Sole possession records, which include memory aids or reference tools that are kept in sole possession of the maker of the record. The term does not refer to records that contain information provided directly by a student, nor records that are used to make decisions about a student.

Consistent with its obligations, the University notifies students annually of their rights under FERPA. Notification is sent to students via official UA email and is available online.

A student’s FERPA rights begin when the student registers for their first class.

In general, the University will not release "personally identifiable information" from a student's educational record without the student's prior written consent. However, FERPA allows disclosure without student consent under the following circumstances:

  • School employees who have a "legitimate educational interest" in the records to perform their duties
  • Other schools where a student seeks to enroll or is enrolled
  • Accrediting organizations
  • Organizations doing certain studies for or on behalf of the University
  • Appropriate parties to determine eligibility, amount, or conditions of financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of aid
  • Parents of a "dependent student," as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, when the parent has provided a notarized affidavit, along with a copy of the relevant page of the parent's most recent income tax return indicating the student's dependent status. Affidavits must be updated annually, otherwise, prior written permission from the student is required
  • Certain government officials of the US Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with an audit, authorized representatives of the US Attorney General for law enforcement purposes, or state or federally supported education programs
  • Individuals who have obtained a judicial order or subpoena
  • School officials who have a need to know concerning disciplinary action taken against a student
  • Appropriate parties who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies when necessary to protect the student and/or others
  • An alleged victim of a crime of violence or non-forcible sexual offense has a right to learn the results of a disciplinary proceeding conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of the crime
  • Information regarding any violation of university policy or state, federal or local law, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance may be released to the parents or legal guardian of a student under the age of 21
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FERPA allows for disclosure in the above circumstances, but disclosure is not required.