What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution regarding the release of educational records and the access provided to these records. Generally the law provides that, with some exceptions, no information, applications, forms, letters, records, transcripts, etc. may be released, whether orally or in writing, without prior written consent, dated and signed by the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons for release and to whom the records are to be released. We encourage you to learn more about the subject at the FERPA tutorial.
Following are answers to specific instructional situations:
What are FERPA rights?
As a student you have four primary rights under FERPA:
- the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the education record (with certain exceptions provided by the law);
- the right to inspect and review the education records;
- the right to challenge or seek to amend the education records under certain circumstances;
- the right to file a complaint with the Office of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs;
- the right to file a complaint with the Family Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education
FERPA rights begin when the student begins classes. Students who originally sought admission to one program of study at the university and are denied, but subsequently are admitted and enrolled in a different program of study have FERPA rights only in their admitted/enrolled program of study. Applicants who were denied admission to the University, who do not attend the University or have not yet started classes do not have rights under FERPA.
What are education records?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.
What is Directory Information?
Directory information is information contained in the educational record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Information identified by the University of Baltimore as directory information that may be disclosed without prior written consent includes:
- Student's name,
- Student's home city and state,
- Degree sought and time,
- Major/minor fields of study,
- College of major and year (freshman, sophomore, etc.),
- Enrollment status (full-time/part-time) including credit hours,
- Dates of attendance,
- Degrees, awards and honors conferred,
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports,
- The most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student,
- Fraternity/sorority and honor societies.
Can a student restrict the release of directory information?
According to FERPA, while still enrolled, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. At UB students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about him/herself must complete a "Request to Withhold Directory Information" form, available at the Office of Records & Registration, Academic Center 126, prior to the start of each semester. The completed form must be submitted in person to the registrar's office and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. The restriction will remain in effect until the student withdraws the request.
Students who wish to restrict the release of directory information should realize that this action could have negative consequences. The names of students who have restricted their directory information will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other university publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied directory information and will be told "we have no information available about this person's attendance at UB."
Can parents access their student's record
Parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records at the postsecondary level. This right is limited solely to the student. At UB, records may be released to parents only if:
- the student has signed a written release giving the parent(s) access to a specific record or
- in compliance with a subpoena. This includes final grades which are available on MyUB but are not mailed to the student's home.
What about crisis situations or emergencies?
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." In the case of an emergency, contact the Office of Public Safety at 410-837-5520.
Who should I contact for more information?
General questions may be directed to the Office of Records and Registration or to the office responsible for the record in question.
What other resources are available?
Office of the Registrar
Office of Community Life and the Dean of Students