- FERPA Issues for Students
- FERPA Issues for Parents
- FERPA Issues for Faculty
- FERPA Issues for Staff
- What about crisis situations or emergencies?
- Whom do I contact with questions or concerns?
- What are FERPA rights?
- When do FERPA rights begin?
- What are education records?
- How can I withhold release of my directory information?
- Can my parents access my student education records?
- How do I authorize letters of recommendation and professional references?
Students have three primary rights under FERPA. They have the right to inspect and review their education records; the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from their education records; and the right to seek to amend their education records, under certain circumstances.
A student's FERPA rights begin when the student registers and attends his or her first class at USD.
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. The information may be recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and e-mail.
According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him or her. Institutions must comply with this request. At USD, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Request to Restrict Directory Information form, available in the appropriate Registrar's Office. The completed form must be submitted in person to the appropriate Registrar's Office and must be accompanied by a photo I.D. A student does not have the right to request non-disclosure to a particular person or group of persons.
Students who wish to restrict 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 University publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of your directory information and will be told: I'm sorry, but we have no information available about this person's attendance at USD.
At the university level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records, unless the student is a dependent as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
If the student is not a dependent, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena. Students may grant their parents (or others) permission to access their education records by filing an Authorization to Release Records to a Third Party form with the appropriate Registrar's Office. This form remains in effect until rescinded by the student in writing.
Parents or guardians of dependent students may obtain access to their student's education records by filing a Request for Release of Education Records form with the appropriate Registrar's Office with a copy of the first page of their most recent Federal Income Tax form.
Parents or guardians who have filed a Request for Release of Education Records form may also request to have their student's grades mailed directly to them by filing a Request for Student Grades form with the appropriate Registrar's Office.
You can waive the confidentiality of your education records for faculty or staff when you ask them to write letters of recommendation or serve as profession references. Complete the Authorization for Recommendations and References form and give it to each person you ask to serve as a reference. The form is in effect until you cancel the authorization in writing.
At the university level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records unless the student is a dependent as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. If the student is not a dependent, records may be released to parents only by consent of the student or in compliance with a subpoena.
Students may grant consent through the following link: Authorization to Release Records to a Third Party.
Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student's education record. This information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access unless the student has provided authorization through the mySanDiego portal account that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s) or the parents have filed a Verification of Tax Dependency form with USD.
Parents or guardians who have filed a Verification of Tax Dependency form may also request to have their student's grades mailed directly to them by filing a Request for Student Grades form with the appropriate Registrar's Office.
- How may I post class grades?
- Are there restrictions on returning assignments and examinations?
- Can I send final grades to students?
- Can I access student records?
- How do I know if a student has restricted access to his/her directory information?
- What if parents call me requesting information?
- Are there restrictions on writing letters of recommendation?
The public posting of grades, either by the student's name, institutional student identification number or social security number, without the student's written permission, is a violation of FERPA. Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered personally identifiable information and therefore violate FERPA. Instructors can assign students unique numbers or codes that can be used to post grades. However, the order of the posting must not be alphabetic.
Leaving personally identifiable, graded papers or examinations unattended for students to view is no different from posting grades in the hallway. If these papers contain personally identifiable information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA if the instructor has not obtained the written permission of each student to do so. Possible solutions would be either to leave the graded papers (exams, quizzes, and homework) with an assistant or secretary who would ask students for proper identification prior to distributing them or to leave them in a sealed envelope with only the student's name on it, to be released to the student with proper identification.
Instructors can notify students of their final grades via the U.S. Postal Service if the information is enclosed in an envelope. Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student's privacy. Notification of grades via the University Web site is permissible.
Faculty members are normally considered school officials. But, the faculty member will have to demonstrate "a legitimate educational interest" in their request to access student records, e.g. advising students, retention study, etc. However, faculty do not have access to student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access.
Directory information includes student's name; USD e-mail address; major field of study; dates of attendance; degrees, honors, and awards received; and participation in officially recognized activities and sports. The student's request to restrict directory information is filed with the appropriate Registrar's Office. Beginning July 1, 2003, the status is indicated on the Academic Record (aka DARS) in the upper left corner of the form immediately under Advisor as Release Directory Info. No indicates that the student has requested a hold on all directory information, and you can reveal nothing about the student to any requestor, including the fact that the student attends USD.
Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student's education record. This information is protected by FERPA. Students may grant the University permission to release information about their records to a third party (including parents, step-parents, etc.) by completing the FERPA Authorization online. Students may login to the portal and click on the FERPA page, under the Torero Hub tab. Note: Please complete the Profile and Authorization tabs for each authorized user. View detailed instructions.
Alternatively, parents or guardians who wish to obtain access to their student's education records may file a Request for Release of Education Records [PDF] form with the appropriate Registrar's Office. A list of persons authorized to discuss the student's record is available to view through the MySanDiego portal. Authorizations are listed in the FERPA Portlet located under the USD Services tab and the BDMS-Xtender page of the portal. You may also contact the registrar by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Please verify authorization under the FERPA Portlet first. If a student also has authorized user(s) in BDMS-Xtender, it will be indicated with the note: Attention: This person has FERPA forms in Xtender.
Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the "education records" (grades, GPA and other non-directory information). Ask the student to complete the Authorization for Recommendations and References form and give you a copy. The authorization remains in effect until it is cancelled by the student in writing.
- What student information can be released, and to whom?
- Who can release student information?
- How will I know if a student has requested that directory information not be disclosed?
- Is USD obligated to release directory information?
- Does FERPA apply to students who are deceased?
- Can student workers have access to student records?
- Can fraternities, sororities, student clubs, and student organizations have access to student records?
- Must we release a transcript if a student has a financial hold?
- What do I tell an officer with a subpoena or ex parte order?
Directory information can be released to anyone unless the student has filed a Request To Restrict Directory Information [PDF] form with the appropriate Registrar. Directory information includes student's name; USD e-mail address; major field of study; dates of attendance; degrees, honors, and awards received; and participation in officially recognized activities and sports.
Non-directory information includes all other education records. See this checklist for a summary of what types of information can be released to specific types of requestors.
An institution may disclose personally identifiable information without the student's written consent to school officials whom the institution has determined to have a legitimate educational interest.
Specific requests for non-directory information should be reviewed and approved by the appropriate Registrar before the information is released.
The student's request to restrict directory information is filed with the appropriate Registrar's Office. Beginning July 1, 2003, the status is indicated on the Academic Record (aka AR) in the upper left corner of the form immediately under Advisor as Release Directory Info. No indicates that the student has requested a hold on all directory information, and you can reveal nothing about the student to any requestor, including the fact that the student attends USD.
The status is also available on the Student Master Screen, beginning July 1, 2003. If Release Directory Info is marked N, this indicates that the student has requested a hold on all directory information. You can reveal nothing about the student to any requestor, including the fact that the student attends USD.
An institution is not obligated to release directory information to anyone. FERPA only states that an institution may release information, but there is no obligation to do so. When in doubt, do not release information.
The privacy rights of an individual expire with that individual's death. Records held by an institution for a deceased person is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. USD will exercise its own discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, information should be disclosed to survivors or third parties.
FERPA does not preclude an institution from identifying students as "school officials" with a "legitimate educational interest" for specific purposes. The same requirements and responsibilities for a full time school official exist for student workers. The student workers must be trained on FERPA just as if they were faculty or staff.
Can fraternities, sororities, student clubs, and student organizations have access to student records?
Many student organizations maintain scholarship committees, academic excellence awards and related types of activities that are based upon personally identifiable information. However, the students in charge of these activities are not "university officials" and may not have access to student record information unless the student has provided written authorization.
Students have the right to inspect the contents of their student folder, regardless of their financial status with the institution. However, an institution is not required to release an official transcript if the student has a past due account.
At USD, all subpoenas and ex parte orders must be delivered to and reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel.
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. Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.
General questions may be directed to the appropriate Registrar: the University Registrar for undergraduate and graduate students, and the Law School Registrar for law students. Comments or suggestions from undergraduate and graduate students or their parents should be addressed to The Registrar Susan Bugbee, email@example.com, (619) 260- 4600, extension 2888, Founders Hall 117. Comments from law students should be addressed to Law School Registrar Kimberly Grennan, firstname.lastname@example.org, (619) 260-4611, Warren Hall 202.