Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Information for Faculty and Staff
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of students' education records. All institutions receiving federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education must adhere to FERPA regulations.
The primary student rights protected under FERPA are:
the right to review and inspect their education records (within 45 days of receipt of a written request)
the right to have their education records amended or corrected
the right to control disclosure of certain portions of their education records
the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education regarding alleged failures to comply with FERPA.
Education records are all records maintained by UTSA about individual students. These records can be in any medium (handwritten, email, print, microfilm, or other formats) maintained by the University.
In accordance with FERPA, UTSA has designated the following categories of information about individual students as public or directory information. This information will be routinely released to any inquirer, unless the student has specifically requested that all or part of the following list be withheld:
Address and telephone number
Date and place of birth
Major field of study
Dates of attendance (in person or by correspondence, Internet, or other electronic and telecommunications technologies)
Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
Degrees, certificates and awards (including scholarships) received
Date of graduation
Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Physical factors (height and weight) of athletes
Students wishing to restrict access to some or all public information in their education record must file a Restrict Student Directory Information Request form available on the Office of the Registrar Web site: www.utsa.edu/registrar/forms.html.
The following categories of information are considered private, or protected, by UTSA:
Social Security Number
UTSA student ID Number
Married name or previous name
Parents' name and address
Grade point average
Rank in class
Current class schedule
Current disciplinary actions.
Private Records may be released only to the following parties:
University academic departments
Appropriate school officials who have legitimate educational interests ("school official" means a person either: (1) employed by UTSA in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, (2) serving on a UTSA governing body, (3) under contract to UTSA to perform a special task or service, or (4) who is a student serving in an official capacity for UTSA).
The University must obtain prior written consent from students before disclosing any personally identifiable information from their education records.
The prior written consent must:
Specify the records to be released
State the purpose of the disclosure
Identify the party(ies) to whom disclosure may be made
Be signed and dated by the student.
The following are not considered education records:
Personal notes of UTSA faculty and staff
Employment records (unless employment is contingent on the individual's status as a student)
Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment
Campus Security records
Financial records of a parent or spouse
Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in the student's record
Records that contain only information about an individual obtained after the individual was no longer a student at UTSA
Records of applicants for admission who were denied acceptance or chose not to attend.
Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before a student's education record may be disclosed to a third party, unless they are exempted from this provision. Some instances in which prior written consent is not required are:
requests in connection with an emergency, if such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other person
requests in accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order
requests for "public records" information, if not restricted by the student
when the student violates a law or the University's policies governing alcohol or substance abuse, if the student is under the age of 21.
For a complete list of groups or individuals to whom information will be released without prior written consent, refer to chapter 5 in the UTSA Information Bulletin at www.utsa.edu/infoguide/.
Eligible students must be given access to review and inspect their education records. Requests to access their education records must be made in writing and submitted to the appropriate office. For details on how students can request access to their records, refer to the UTSA Information Bulletin at www.utsa.edu/infoguide/.
Grades may not be released to any third parties or parents without prior written consent from the student
Grades may not be posted by a full or partial Social Security Number, Banner ID, name or other means that may inadvertently identify the student
DO NOT send grades via email as there is no guarantee of confidentiality with electronic transmission
Use official grade delivery methods; ASAP and WebCT.
DO NOT leave student information out on your desk or open on your computer
DO NOT circulate a printed class roster with names and Banner IDs
DO NOT discuss student concerns with anyone but the student
DO NOT release any student record information to a third party or parent without checking with the Office of the Registrar or your Dean's office.
Letters of Recommendation
Statements made from personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student. However, if personally identifiable information obtained from a student's education record is included in a letter of recommendation (e.g., grades, GPA, etc.), you are required to obtain a signed release from the student.
The Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education reviews and investigates complaints of violations of FERPA. Violations may result in sanctions as severe as the withholding of federal funding, including grants and financial aid.
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/ferpa/.