FACULTY/STAFF & FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that gives protection to student educational records and provides students with certain rights. The law assigns the student as the owner of his/her educational record and provides guidelines on how the educational institution is to use and release protected information. This insures that information such as the student’s grades are not public information and that the student controls who has access to this information. This law also requires the educator to grant the students access to their personal records.
Why Should I Care About FERPA?
- If a member of the university violates FERPA, the Department of Education could take away the university's student federal funding.
- Violation of FERPA may constitute grounds for staff dismissal.
- It's the right thing to do. Our students depend on us to keep their academic information confidential.
What Are The FERPA Basics?
Student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect education records in your possession.
Some information (called "Public Directory Information") can be released without the student's written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well. Before releasing any Directory Information, you should consult with the UNO Office of the University Registrar to determine whether the student has chosen to not disclose and to ensure any release is consistent with university policy. This is also viewable in MavLINK.
You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee. Legitimate educational need to know is the basic principle.
If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you talk to the office responsible for student records. Contact the UNO Office of the University Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org, or refer the request to that office.
What Information Is Considered Public Directory Information At UNO?
The University is allowed to select some information about a student to make accessible to the public. This information is called "Public Directory Information."
Public Directory Information is student information that is generally available to the public.
Non-Public Directory Information is not available to the public, but is generally available to any University Official or student.
Public Directory Information
- Student name
- Year at the University
- Dates of attendance
- Academic college and major field of study
- Enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time)
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Degrees, honors and awards received
- Most recent educational agency or institution attended
Non-Public Directory Information
- Local address
- Permanent address
- Telephone listings
- University email address
Public Directory information will be available to the public upon request and may be included in student directories published electronically.
This release of this information is not normally considered a violation of a person's privacy and may be disclosed without a student’s written consent unless a student has requested that this information not be released.
What else should I know about Directory Information?
- If you do not have a way of knowing whether or not a student has requested confidentiality of directory information, do not release it.
- Just because you can does not mean you should. The university considers a student's right to privacy to be very important and does not routinely share directory information with third parties. To request that directory information be made confidential, the student should update their FERPA restrictions in MavLINK.
- If a student requests confidentiality of directory information, it is all-or-nothing. In other words, not even the student's name will appear in publications on the Graduation Program.
Is UNO Required To Release A Student's Directory Information?
No. Educational records under FERPA are only required to be disclosed to the student. All other disclosures, including those with student consent and disclosures of directory information are at the discretion of the institution.
Can Students Have Their Directory Information Withheld From The Public?
Yes. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students have the right to restrict the release of directory information to non-university entities. This hold will prohibit the release of information (degree, graduation dates, etc.) to potential employers, local newspapers, etc. Once a restriction has been placed, the University may not even acknowledge to third parties that the person is a student.
Even though a student may have placed a FERPA restriction, the University has the right to share the student’s information, without the student’s authorization, with school officials who have a legitimate educational interest or in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena.
Is Student Information Always Classified?
No. UNO may disclose educational records under certain requirements and exceptions. These include:
- The written consent of the student
- School officials that have a legitimate educational interest
- When there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals
- When confirming information provided by a third party.
- Educational institutions where the student plans to enroll or transfer
- Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoena
- Any records included under the directory information unless they have been restricted by the student
- Parents if the students are Federal IRS dependents; proof of dependency is required
- Third parties with written agreement in conjunction with the evaluation of federal or state supported educational programs
Under FERPA, release of information is up to the University's discretion even if an exception is met.
Who Are University Officials?
"University officials" are university employees or third parties under contract with the University to achieve educational missions of the University. This includes but is not limited to faculty, staff, advisors, counselors, employment placement personnel, deans, department chairpersons, directors, university police, health staff and development officers.
What Is Legitimate Educational Interest?
A university official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for UNO.