Frequently Asked Questions
Most Commonly Asked Student Questions
What are my rights under FERPA? Accordion Closed
Students have three primary rights under FERPA. You have the right to:
- Inspect and review your education records;
- Exercise some control over the disclosure of information from your education records, and
- Seek to amend your education records
When do my FERPA rights begin? Accordion Closed
FERPA covers enrolled students. We consider students enrolled on the first day of the FIRST term when they begin taking classes. At this point, your admission records also become covered by FERPA.
What are “education records”? Accordion Closed
Education records are records that are maintained by the university as part of the educational process. They do not include alumni records, records made by the campus police, or records made for employment, medical, or counseling purposes.
What is not an “education record”? Accordion Closed
- University 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.
What is the FERPA Annual Notification? Accordion Closed
Consistent with its obligations, the Office of the Dean of Students notifies students annually of their rights under FERPA.
Who can access my confidential education records without my permission? Accordion Closed
Northern Arizona University school officials may access your education records only where there is a demonstrated “legitimate educational interest”. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record to fulfill his or her professional responsibility*.
This includes university staff, faculty, and affiliates fulfilling the following roles: instructor [or professor]; president; regent; registrar; case manager; academic advisor; mentor; campus housing professional; admissions professional; attorney; Office of the Dean of Students professional; accountant; student accounts professionals; auditor; comptroller; human resources professional; technology and information systems professional; Institutional Review Board professional; institutional research and reporting professional; financial aid professionals; military; academic/success program coordinator; accessibility analyst; accreditation coordinator; disability resources professionals; Title IX professionals; Equity and Access professionals; activities and program coordinator; athletics professionals; Center for International Education professionals; student identification professional; Library staff; and support or clerical personnel.
*Professional responsibilities inform the level of educational record access that is granted.
How do I manage the information released? Accordion Closed
You can limit release of some or all Directory Information by updating your student record in the LOUIE system. To change the release of your Directory Information, please select “Privacy Settings” in the drop down menu located in the “Personal Information” section of the Student Center in LOUIE. This privacy setting will not expire; it will continue until you revoke it.
You may approve or deny all or specific access to an individual requesting FERPA Release access in The Lumberjack Family Hub. A notification via email will let you know when someone has requested access to your records; from there you may approve or deny access.
To remove access to a FERPA Release not managed by the Lumberjack Family Hub, please email Registrar@nau.edu.
There may be times when, by law, Northern Arizona University is required to release this information. In these circumstances we will make every effort to notify you before your records are released to enable you to block the request if desired.
Will restricting directory information have any adverse effects? Accordion Closed
It may. If you decide to restrict directory information which you later wish to be released, please note that you will need to update your privacy settings in the LOUIE system prior to leaving Northern Arizona University. If you do not release those settings in the LOUIE system, this may mean:
- Your name will not appear in the commencement program or any press releases;
- A prospective employer, school, or insurance company will not be able to receive degree or enrollment verification;
- Your contact details will not be given to family members wishing to notify you of a serious illness or crisis in the family.
Are my judicial records protected by FERPA? Accordion Closed
Student judicial records containing information surrounding suspected violations of the Student Code of Conduct are protected by FERPA. The Office of the Dean of Students may 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 or safety concerns
What is the Solomon Amendment and how does it affect me? Accordion Closed
The Solomon Amendment to FERPA requires institutions to provide directory-type information on students at least 17 years of age who are registered for at least one credit, upon request from representatives of the Department of Defense, for military recruiting purposes.
Even if an institution has a policy of not releasing directory information under FERPA, it must still comply with requests for “student recruitment information” unless the student has formally requested the school to withhold directory information under FERPA to third parties. If you do not wish your information to be released, you must update the LOUIE system accordingly (See the information below).
Who has access to student education records? Accordion Closed
In general, the University will not release “personally identifiable information” from a student’s education 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
FERPA allows for disclosure in the above circumstances, but disclosure is not required.
Most Commonly Asked Parent Questions
What rights do I have, as a parent, under FERPA? Accordion Closed
FERPA covers the rights of the student to privacy. The student will need to grant you access to his/ her educational record.
How do parents access their student’s educational records? Accordion Closed
There are three ways you may legally receive access to your student’s education records from Northern Arizona University:
- Sign up or login through The Lumberjack Family Hub.
- You provide evidence that you claimed the student as a financial dependent on your most recent Federal Income Tax form (must provide current evidence each calendar year);
- Through a lawfully-issued subpoena or court order.
Please remember that an institution is not required to disclose information, and may exercise discretion when doing so.
What if access has changed or the information released is different than expected? Accordion Closed
The Lumberjack Family Hub is a record of the most up to date information a student is releasing to you. Students may change the information they release to provide recipients more access, less access, or they may remove the release entirely. Per FERPA we must honor the student’s request, and any questions you may have about access to the information should be directed to the student. For technical support questions, please email email@example.com.
What if the student is still a minor? Accordion Closed
When a student reaches the age of 18, or begins attending a post-secondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.
How can I learn how my student is doing? Accordion Closed
The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults isn’t always easy. Sometimes they are not as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.
Most Commonly Asked Faculty and Staff Questions
What is “directory information”? Accordion Closed
Directory information is information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of a student’s privacy if disclosed. We have defined the following items as directory information:
- Address (local and permanent)
- University E-mail address
- Telephone number
- Major field of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
- Dates of attendance (enrollment verification)
- Enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate, freshman, etc., full-time or part-time)
- Degrees, honors, and awards received
- Institution most recently previously attended
- Your class schedule is not directory information.
Can I share a student ID in the subject line of an email? Accordion Closed
- No, sharing any personally identifiable information in the subject line may lead to a FERPA violation.
- Personally identifiable information permitted to be shared via email is extremely limited.
- For more information please review NAU’s data handling policy.
What is my FERPA responsibility as a student worker? Accordion Closed
Students who perform institutional functions may be deemed “school officials” with “legitimate educational interest” in accessing designated educational records for 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? Accordion Closed
The privacy rights of a student expire with that student’s death.
What can instructors and staff access? Accordion Closed
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.
Can graded assignments be left out for students to access? Accordion Closed
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.
Can grades be posted where all students can access them for convenience? Accordion Closed
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.
Are employees obligated to release student directory information? Accordion Closed
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 account for evidence of restriction prior to releasing information.
You may do so by logging into The Lumberjack Family Hub. After a CAS login, you may select the Admin profile to search for a student by emplID, name (first and last), or email. Once you have found a student you may confirm the PIN code with the interested party and view the FERPA information the student has permitted to be shared. You may find more detailed information and examples in the FERPA Status document.
When in doubt, do not release information and contact the Office of the Registrar for guidance.
Are employees obligated to disclose student information to parents? Accordion Closed
A student’s educational record is protected under FERPA. Parents will not have access to it unless the student has provided authorization that specifically identifies which information may be released to the parent. The presence of a FERPA Release permits you to disclose student record information, but you are under no obligation to do so or to speak to parents.
Instructions on how to identify if a FERPA release is on a students account can be found on our Faculty and Staff page.
What if protected student information is needed in a crisis/emergency? Accordion Closed
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.
What do I do if I receive a subpoena? Accordion Closed
All subpoenas are reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel to determine the appropriate course of action. If you receive a subpoena, please email the Office of the General Counsel or call: 928-523-6517.