FERPA Frequently Asked Questions
What is 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.
When do the FERPA rights of a student begin?
An eligible student is an individual who has reached 18 years of age or is/has been in attendance at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
What constitutes a student's education record?
The definition of an education record under FERPA is broad. It essentially refers to any record that is directly related to a student and that is kept by the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) or someone acting on behalf of the University from which an individual student, or students, can be personally (individually) identified.
- This can include: files, documents and materials in any medium (handwritten, tape, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche, etc.)
- Written permission must be obtained from a student before releasing an education record, unless the request fits certain narrow exceptions. See UNO's Student Records Policy.
- When in doubt, assume that the item, if it relates to a student, is an education record and seek further assistance.
What security measures should I take?
- Never disclose, share, or loan your NUID or password to anyone. Everyone should obtain their own individual log-on if access for them is deemed necessary.
- Ensure that remote access to, retrieval and transmission of confidential academic record information is accomplished through a secure and encrypted connection.
- Faculty and staff should restrict unauthorized persons from viewing confidential information. Some examples would include;
♦never leave your computer unattended while signed on. Using a password-protected screen saver is one way but protective measures should be taken to ensure information is protected as well as unauthorized access to your work area;
♦never leave personal logon information in view of unauthorized persons;
♦always lock your office and lock up any educational records or confidential information away from view.
Can I share a student's information with their parent?
No. FERPA does not allow you to discuss student information with any third party unless you have written consent from the student.
- When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student.
- Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution.
- Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only at the discretion of the institution AND after it has been documented that their child is legally their dependent.
- The Office of the University Registrar maintains signed consent from students who have chosen to allow release of non-directory information to parents.
What are a spouse's rights?
The spouse has no rights under FERPA to access the student’s education record.
What do I do if a parent contacts me?
Determine if the student has granted the parent access to their record. If the student has given the parent access, you are free to discuss information with them. If the student has not given consent, you may only discuss public directory information if the student does not have a FERPA restriction on that.
Can I post grades outside my office?
Grades are not directory information. Do not display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, student NUID numbers (even the last 4 digits of the SSN) or other personal identifiers.
Do not put papers or lab reports containing student names, photos, and grades in publicly accessible places. Students should not have access to the scores and grades of others in the class.
Can I answer questions about educational records over the phone, email, or fax?
Be cautious discussing educational records over the phone and email. Use reasonable inquisition to confirm the person is the student, someone who has written consent, or a school official with legitimate educational interest. Those who have written consent will have a security code/phrase that they must give to you. Do not share by phone or correspondence information from student education records, including grades or grade point averages, with parents or others outside the institution, including letters of recommendation, without written permission of the student.