What Students need to know about FERPA

The Family Rights and Privacy Act, more commonly known as FERPA, was adopted by Congress in 1974 and was designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records.

The Act affords students with four primary rights:

THE RIGHT to inspect and review the student’s educational records.  A student should submit to the Registrar a written request identifying the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.  The Registrar will notify the student of the time and place where the record(s) may be inspected.  If the record(s) are not maintained by the University Registrar, the student will be advised of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

THE RIGHT to request the amendment of the student’s educational record(s) if the student believes they are inaccurate or misleading. A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identifying the part of the record the student wants changed, and specifying why it should be changed.  If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

THE RIGHT to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s educational records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.  One exception which permits disclosure without student consent is the disclosure to “University officials” with “legitimate educational interests”. (See FERPA FAQs for a full list of exceptions as well as definitions for “University Officials” and “legitimate educational interest”.) Another exception permitting disclosure without consent pertains to “Directory Information”, discussed below.

THE RIGHT to be notified of their FERPA rights at least annually.  At AUM, students are notified in the fall semester through News and Headlines and on the University’s website.

EDUCATION RECORDS include any record maintained by the institution (not just the Registrar) containing information that is personally identifiable to a student, in whatever format or medium.  Under FERPA, these items cannot be disclosed to a third party, including parents, without the student’s written consent.  “Personally Identifiable Information” or “Educational Records” may be released only to the student and then only with the proper identification.  However, there are a number of exceptions to FERPA’s prohibition against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from educational records.  (Please refer to FERPA FAQs to see the complete list.)  Under these exceptions, schools are permitted to disclose information without consent, though they are not required to do so.

Including but not limited to:

  • Class schedule
  • Grades/GPA and academic standing
  • Test scores
  • Academic transcripts
  • Disciplinary records
  • Student financial records
  • Employment records for student workers

Other Personally Identifiable Records 
Including but not limited to:

  • Social Security Number
  • Gender/race/ethnicity
  • Residence status
  • Religious preference
  • Country of citizenship

DIRECTORY INFORMATION is data items that are generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if publically available. Under FERPA, these items may be disclosed, unless the student has placed a “block” (referred to as non-disclosure) on Directory Information release.  AUM has designated the following information as “Directory information”:

  • Student’s Name (including Preferred Name)
  • Address (Local and Permanent)
  • Telephone Listing
  • Email Address
  • Photograph, video or other electronic images
  • Date of birth
  • Major(s)/Degree Program(s)
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Class/Level
  • Enrollment status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time)
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Degree(s) conferred), Honors & Awards (including Dean’s List)
  • Most recent educational agency or institution attended

NON DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTORY INFORMATION:  FERPA affords the right to students to request non-disclosure of “directory information” to third parties.  To prevent AUM from disclosing any “directory information” to third parties, students must complete the “Request to Opt Out of Directory Information” form available from the Registrar’s Office, Suite 114, Taylor Center.  Such requests may be filed at any time. The request to prevent disclosure of “directory information” will remain in effect permanently, including after departure from AUM, unless subsequently changed by the student. At the time of graduation, students will be given an opportunity to release such information hold.  Any student considering total confidentiality should be aware that this will have significant consequences such as preventing acknowledgment of his or her enrollment and the release of any and all “directory information” by AUM to potentially interested third parties such as parents, spouses, children, other family members, insurance companies, and potential employers.  Students should carefully consider the consequences before submitting the form.

For more detailed information, please see FERPA FAQs on the AUM website or contact the Registrar’s Office by calling 334-244-3125 or by emailing [email protected].

Additional information on FERPA may be found at the website of the U.S. Department of Education.

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