Section 2: Education Records
Section 2: Introduction
In Section 2 we will cover education records and other information that requires secure handling.
- What Are Education Records?
- What Is Personally Indentifiable Information?
- What Are Not Considered Education Records?
- What Is Directory Information?
- What Information May Be Released?
What Are Education Records?
Under FERPA, student education records must be handled in a secure and confidential manner.
These education records are defined as information that directly relates to a student and are maintained by an institution. These records can be in any media form, such as handwritten notes, typed, microfilm, microfiche, or electronic format.
- Education records are those records directly related to an individual student and are maintained by an institution.
- Records can be in any media form such as:
Personally Identifiable Information
Personally identifiable information relating to students must be handled in a secure manner under FERPA.
This includes all records containing the student's social security or student ID number, such as add/drop forms, transcripts, student information displayed on a computer screen, grades, class assignments, class rosters, student schedules, and reports.
Again, any printed or displayed document that contains the student's social security or student ID number is considered to be personally identifiable information and thus protected under FERPA.
Records that typically contain personally identifiable information:
- Add/Drop forms
- Student information displayed on a computer screen
- Student schedules
- Class rosters
- Any paper with the student's SSN or Student ID
What Are Not Considered Education Records?
There are five types of documents that are not considered to be Education Records under FERPA.
First, personal notes, made outside the presence of the student. Second, law enforcement unit records. Third, employment records. Fourth, medical records. And finally, alumni records.
Personal notes, also known as sole possession notes, are made and maintained by a faculty or staff member. For example, an adviser meets with a student to discuss the upcoming semester. After the student leaves the room, the adviser documents what was discussed and files the note in his or her own file drawer. This is considered to be a personal note because it was not made in the presence of others and it was filed in the adviser's own office. Therefore, this personal note is not part of the education record and is not subject to FERPA.
Law enforcement unit records are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes.
Employment records are not considered part of the education record unless the person's employment is contingent upon being a student, such as a graduate student or a work-study student.
Medical records are defined as being created by a healthcare professional and are only used for the medical or health treatment of the student. The privacy and security of medical records are covered under HIPPA (Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act). Finally, alumni records are created after the student has left the institution and therefore are not considered part of the education record.
What are not considered education records:
- Personal notes not made in the presence of the student
- Law Enforcement Unit Records
-Maintained solely for law enforcement purposes
-Revealed only to law enforcement agencies
- Employment Records
-Employment is not contingent upon being a student
-Records created as a result of being a student through work studies or graduate assistantships, for example, are education records
- Medical Records
-Created by a health care professional
-Used only for the medical/health treatment of the student
- Alumni Records
-Created after student has left the institution
What Information Can Be Released?
Next, let's discuss student information that can be released or disclosed to another party. This includes directory information, information released by the student through a written consent, information requested by university officials who have a legitimate educational interest, and information requested by certain government agencies.
Information that can be released:
- Directory information
- Information that the student has given written consent to release
- Information needed by university officials who have a legitimate educational interest
- Information needed by certain government agencies
What Is Directory Information?
Directory information is information that can be released to any third party without the student's written consent. There are a couple of exceptions to this guideline, which we will discuss further in Section 3.
Each higher education institution is allowed to define what is considered to be directory information.
Records that typically contain personally identifiable information:
- Directory Information may be released without the student's written consent.
- Individual institutions determine what information is classified as directory information.
Our university has defined directory information to include the student's name, address, email address, telephone number, parents' names, parents' address, additional telephone number, date and place of birth, major and minor fields of study, part-time or full-time status, degrees and awards received, previous schools attended, and a photograph of the student.
In addition, enrollment status (whether the student is full-time, half-time, or less than half-time) can be released to any third party but the specific number of credit hours cannot be released without written consent.
Directory information includes:
- Local address and telephone number
- University email address
- Dates of attendance (including matriculation, drop, and withdrawal dates)
- Academic classification (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
- Field of study, including majors, minors, certifications, and pre-professional areas of study
- Recognized for participation in university-sponsored activities and sports, including photographs of athletes
- Degree and certificates received including date awarded
- Enrollment status (full-time, half-time, or less than half-time)
- Awards received, including Dean's List, scholastic honors, departmental honors, memberships in national honor societies, and athletic letters
- Most recent education institution attended
Additional Information Released by the University
The university releases the Dean's List and a list of graduating students to hometown newspapers. Administration may also provide individual student photos to the campus community and law enforcement personnel, for health and safety issues.
- The university releases lists of:
-Students who qualify for the Dean's List
-Graduates to newspapers, which cover the permanent address of record
- A student's individual photo may be given to the campus community and law enforcement for health and safety issues
Scenario One: The Phone Call
Now that you have had the opportunity to learn some of the guidelines governing FERPA, we will take a few minutes to work through a scenario to demonstrate how you would apply this knowledge in your job.
This scenario focuses on how you would handle a phone call from a student who is requesting information about herself.
You receive a phone call from an individual identifying herself as Sarah Student. Sarah just finished her freshman year of college. It is summer and time for her to reapply for scholarships. Sarah states that she really needs to find out what her grades were from the previous semester in order to complete several scholarship forms that are due the next day. You tell her that she can access her grades through the university website. Sarah says she's forgotten her PIN number and cannot access her grades. She desperately needs this information and begs you to provide the information over the phone. She is willing to provide you with whatever information you need to prove her identity, including her student identification number. How would you respond to Sarah in this situation, based on FERPA guidelines and university policies and procedures?
Please select from one of the three options below.
Not provide the student information on her grades but provide her with assistance on how she can access the information herself.
Tell the student her grades over the phone only after she has accurately provided you with information that verifies her identity.
Tell the student her grades over the phone without any further information.