What faculty & staff need to know
FERPA (The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records and affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. FERPA applies to those institutions that receive funding from the Department of Education and guarantees students three primary rights: to inspect and review their education records; to seek to amend education records; and to exercise some control over the disclosure of information from those education records.
Education records are those records which are directly related to a student and maintained by Northern Arizona University or by a person or authorized agent acting for Northern Arizona University, which include any information or data recorded in any medium, including, but not limited to handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, and microfiche.
How does FERPA affect me as a faculty or staff member?
If the student has not restricted access to “directory” (or public) information, you may release the following:
- Address (local and permanent)
- 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
Departments may not release non-directory or personally identifiable information about a student to a third party (parents included) without the student’s written authorization. You may have the student fill out a FERPA release form through the Office of the Registrar if the student wants to allow you to speak with a third party. To determine if a student has a FERPA release form on file, please check to see if the student has an RA6 Positive Service Indicator flag in the LOUIE system. You may view instructions on how to check for this flag in LOUIE.
The following information can only be released when there is a FERPA release on file and will only be released to the individuals specified on the release. Please carefully check the RA6 Positive Service Indicator flags for specific information.
Do not release without written authorization:
- Student ID number
- Student ID photo
- Grades/exam scores
- Grade point average
- Social Security number
- Parent address/phone
- Detail of registration information (i.e., courses, times)
- Race, ethnicity, or nationality
- Total credits
- Number of credits enrolled in a term
- Emergency contact
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, student ID number, or social security number without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades to a class/institutional website and applies to any public posting of grades in hallways and in departmental offices for all students including those taking distance education courses. This includes leaving graded materials in hallways!
If an instructor wants to post grades, then a system needs to be put in place that ensures FERPA requirements are met. The instructor may also obtain the student’s written permission or use code words or randomly assigned numbers that only the instructor and individual student know.
Notification of grades via e-mail is in violation of FERPA! There is no guarantee of confidentiality on the Internet. The institution would be held responsible if an unauthorized third party gained access, in any manner, to a student’s education record through any electronic transmission method.
The student has a right to inspect and review any departmental or college records you maintain on him/her except for ‘sole possession records’. A sole possession record is a record you never share with anyone else and that is maintained solely by you. Sole possession records are not subject to FERPA.
FERPA considers Teaching Assistants to be an extension of the faculty member. Faculty members may even share their sole-possession records with their TAs. However, if other faculty and department members can inspect those notes, they are no longer sole possession and become education records. Students have the right to inspect and review those records.