It's Your Responsibility
As a faculty or staff member at the University of Northern Iowa, you have a legal responsibility under FERPA to protect the confidentiality of student educational records in your possession. Student educational records (other than directory information) are considered confidential and may not be released without written consent of the student. Your job places you in a position of trust and you are an integral part of ensuring that student information is handled properly.
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), also known as the Buckley Amendment,
was passed by Congress in 1974.
FERPA is designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records and personally identifiable information.
FERPA applies to all educational agencies or institutions, including the University of Northern Iowa, that receive funds under any program administered by the Secretary of Education.
An “education record” is any record that is directly related to a student and maintained by the university.
Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, email, print, digital, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official.
Exceptions: Education Records Do NOT Include:
- Records in the "sole possession of the maker that are not accessible to other personnel”
- Law enforcement or campus security records created and maintained by the law enforcement unit and used for law enforcement purposes
- Employment records
- Medical/psychological treatment records
- Alumni records (those created after the student graduated or left the institution)
Directory information consists of information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if publicly available. Directory Information is considered public and may be released without the student’s written permission, however cannot be released if the student has restricted access by updating their personal information in MyUNIverse.
• Directory Information CANNOT include: race, gender, SSN (or part of the SSN), grades, GPA, country of citizenship, or religion. Except in very specific circumstances, a student ID number also cannot be considered directory information.
• Every student must be given the opportunity to “opt out” or have directory information
suppressed from public release.
• A “no release” does NOT mean that a school official within the institution who has a demonstrated legitimate educational interest cannot access the information.
Directory Information at UNI (published in the UNI Directory)
- Primary Name
- Preferred Name
- Birth Date
- College Address
- Home Address
- Local Address
- Residence Hall Address
- Currently Enrolled
- UNI E-Mail Address
- Personal E-mail Address
- Work E-Mail Address
- Home Phone
- Local Phone
- Cell Phone
- Degree Received
- Dates of Attendance
- Participation in Activities
• use the University ID number of a student in a public posting of grades or in any other
• link the name of student with that student’s University ID number in any public manner
• leave graded tests, papers, or other student materials for students to pick up in a stack
that requires sorting through the papers of all students
• circulate a printed class list with student name and University ID number, photo, or
grades as an attendance roster
• discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including
parents) without the consent of the student
• provide anyone with lists or files of students enrolled in your classes for any reason
provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university
employees in finding a student on campus
• access the records of any student for personal reasons
Using the UNI Student ID number, Fred Faculty has posted the grades for his students on the wall outside his office. Posting grades in any personally identifiable format, such as with a name, SSN or Student ID number is a violation under FERPA.
A student’s social security number (SSN) has been verified to a caller who received a document with the student’s SSN on it. A student’s SSN can never be directory information, and therefore cannot be disclosed or even confirmed as public information.
Professor Polly has been publically podcasting all of her classes, this includes class discussions, without notifying the students. Student participation in class discussions should not be made public without their express written permission.
A student is demanding that his advisor, Annie Advisor, share her personal notes about him with him. Under FERPA, these notes are considered “sole possession” records, which are an exception to “education records” notes and do not need to be released.
Students Have the Right To:
- Be notified of their FERPA rights at least annually
- Inspect and review their records
- Seek amendment to an incorrect record
- Limit disclosure of directory information
- File a complaint with the Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with FERPA
When do FERPA rights begin? A FERPA-related college education record begins for a student when he or she enrolls in a higher education institution. At a postsecondary institution, rights belong to the student in attendance, regardless of the student’s age.
University of Northern Iowa
Office of the Registrar
115 Gilchrist Hall
Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education