It is the policy of the University of Michigan-Dearborn to comply with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that governs the release of and access to student education records; protects the rights of students; ensures the privacy and accuracy of student education records.
FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance at postsecondary institutions. FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for admission who are denied acceptance or, if accepted, do not attend the institution. Students enrolled in one component of an institution who seek to be admitted in another component of the institution are not given FERPA rights to the latter (until they are admitted, enrolled, and attending).
Guidelines for the Release of Student Information Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
"Education records" include those records which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained (in any way, including handwritten, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, photographs, microfilm, microfiche, etc.) by the University or by a person acting for the University. The following are not education records:
- records of instructional, supervisory, administrative, and certain educational personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker
- law enforcement unit records that were created by the law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement
- records relating to individuals employed by the University which relate exclusively to their capacity as employees, i.e. human resources records
- records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional, acting in his/her professional capacity when maintained solely for treatment purposes
- records that contain information about an individual after that person is no longer a student, i.e. alumni records
Legitimate Educational Interest
The need to review an education record in order for a University official to carry out his or her responsibilities in regard to performing an administrative task outlined in the official's duties, or performing a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student's education.
A University official is any person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support position; a person elected to the Board of Regents; a student or a University graduate serving on an official University committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks; or a person employed by or under contract to, or serving as the agent of, the University to perform a specific task.
Directory information may appear in public documents and may otherwise be released to individuals outside the University without the student's specific consent. The University of Michigan-Dearborn has designated the following items as directory information:
- email address
- telephone number
- University of Michigan-Dearborn school or college
- class level
- major field
- dates of attendance at UM-Dearborn
- current enrollment status
- degree(s) received and date(s) awarded
- honors and awards received
- participation in recognized activities
- previous school(s) attended
- height and weight of members of intercollegiate athletic teams
Student’s Right to Request Non-disclosure of Directory Information
Students may request their directory information be withheld under FERPA.
- students requesting non-disclosure of directory information must complete a non-disclosure request form available in the Office of the Registrar
- submitting a non-disclosure request prevents any directory information from being released to anyone—students cannot pick and choose which directory items are disclosed, nor to whom directory items are disclosed in advance
- the University may not even acknowledge to third parties that the person is a student – “we have no information on that person” is generally the response
- a non-disclosure request is effective until the student repeals the request in writing
- students who request non-disclosure are excluded from the Honors Convocation program and the Commencement program
- the University must not confirm/deny anything about a student with a non-disclosure request in place without written or authenticated electronic consent
- a warning is displayed on pertinent UM-Dearborn Connect pages for students who have requested non-disclosure
Except for certain public (directory) information, student records are regarded as confidential. As required by FERPA, the University has adopted a policy on student records. The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Student Records & Student Rights Policy is published in the University Catalog.
FERPA applies to records that relate to any current or former student. A "student" is an individual for whom the University maintains education records and who is or has been enrolled in and attended credit-bearing courses at the University. FERPA does not apply to records containing information gathered after a student has graduated or otherwise left the University. FERPA does not cover individuals who have applied but were not admitted to the University or who were admitted, but did not enroll in and attend classes.
FERPA and University policy prohibit disclosing most student education records without the student's written or authenticated electronic permission to anyone outside the University, including a student's parents and University employees (unless legitimate educational interest can be demonstrated - the need to review an education record in order to carry out responsibilities in regard to performing an administrative task outlined in the person’s duties, or performing a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student's education). FERPA sets forth limited circumstances under which information in a student's records can be released without the student's written or authenticated electronic permission. Requests for information from a student record received from anyone other than the student or a University employee who has a legitimate educational interest should be directed to the Office of the Registrar. Requests for information from a student record from a University employee with legitimate educational interest should be directed to the office that maintains the student record in question.
Exceptions to Student Consent for Release of Education Records
FERPA allows the institution the right to disclose student education records or identifiable information without the student's consent under certain circumstances. Authorized disclosures without the student's prior written or authenticated electronic consent may include but are not limited to disclosures:
- to University officials with a legitimate educational interest
- in connection with an application for or receipt of financial aid
- in connection with studies conducted for the purpose of accreditation, development, and validation of predictive tests, administration of student aid programs, or improvement of instruction
- of information necessary to the health or safety of the student or other individuals if the University determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals
- as required by federal or state law, a judicial order, or a lawfully issued subpoena (if information from the record is subpoenaed or required by the judicial order, a reasonable attempt to notify the student will be made as quickly as possible unless the order or subpoena prohibits such notice)
- to parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the University determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21
- to federal, state, and local authorities conducting an audit, evaluation, or enforcement of education programs
- of information returned to the author/sender of the information
- of information forwarded to schools where the student plans to enroll or transfer
- of the results of a disciplinary hearing conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence (these will be made available to the alleged victim of that crime)
The University of Michigan-Dearborn does not routinely disclose information without the student's consent to parents of federal tax dependents.
State and local education authorities may allow access to your records to third parties with the written agreement in conjunction with the evaluation of federal or state supported education programs; including early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career, and technical education, and adult education.
Right to Review and Challenge the Contents of Education Records
FERPA gives students the right to inspect and review their own records with certain exceptions. Many units maintain student records, but requests can be directed to the Office of the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-583-6500). FERPA also provides a mechanism for a student to request an amendment of education records; the right to a hearing if the student has been improperly denied access to education records, the records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or information from the records has been improperly released to third parties; and the right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education. Students should be referred to the Office of the Registrar for further information.
Penalties for FERPA Violations
The Family Policy Compliance Office is authorized by the United States Department of Education’s Secretary of Education to investigate, process, and review complaints and violations under FERPA. The consequence to the University, if we are in violation, could be a loss of federal funding.
Parental Access to Children's Education Records
At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect a student's education records. The right to inspect is limited solely to the student. Records may be released to the parents only under the following circumstances:
- through the written or authenticated electronic consent of the student,
- in compliance with a subpoena,
- by submission of evidence that the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax form (IRS Code of 1954, Section 152).
The University of Michigan-Dearborn policy and practice is to not disclose information without the student's consent to a parent or a spouse.
Posting of Grades by Faculty
The public posting of grades by the student name, UM-Dearborn student identification number, or social security number is a violation of FERPA - whether done via paper source or electronic means. Grades may be posted by using randomly assigned numbers known only by the faculty and the individual student in such a way that privacy is protected (e.g., not listing the students in alphabetical order).
A system should be used for returning graded work to prevent access and/or release to anyone other than the student. Graded examinations and papers should not be left in the open for pick up unless each student’s work is in a separate sealed envelope. It is a best practice to distribute graded work directly to the student.
Students' Rights After Ceasing Attendance or Graduating
Students who have ceased attendance or have graduated from an institution of higher education have the same FERPA rights as students currently attending the University, including the right to:
- inspect and review their education records (with some exceptions)
- request an amendment of their education record if they believe it is inaccurate or misleading
- control access to information in their records by persons or agencies (with some exceptions)
- limit disclosure of their directory information
- a hearing if they believe that they have been improperly denied access to the records, the records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or information from the records has been improperly released to third parties
- file a complaint with the United States Department of Education.
References for Students by Faculty
FERPA’s prohibition of disclosure of personally identifiable information from a student educational record applies to all non-directory information (e.g., performance in class, grades, attitude, motivation, abilities, socioeconomic background, race, gender, date of birth) conveyed in writing, in person, or via telephone to third parties. Student written or authenticated electronic consent is required to release this information.
Written or Authenticated Electronic Consent
Students may release their education records to parents, a prospective employer, an insurance company, another higher education institution, etc., by providing written or authenticated electronic consent. The consent must include the following information:
- specify records that may be disclosed (transcript, etc.)
- state the purpose of disclosure
- identify a party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made
- student signature and date (within the last six months) or appropriate authenticated electronic permission
Disposal of Student Education Records
Any document containing personally identifiable information must be disposed of properly and confidentially (shred, incinerate, etc.)