Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The University of Michigan-Dearborn complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that governs release of and access to 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).
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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 audiotape, film, photographs, microfilm, microfiche, etc.) by the University or by a person acting for the University. The following are not education records:
- records kept in the sole possession of the maker as a personal memory aid,
- law enforcement records,
- employment records relating to individuals employed by the University, except where employment is conditioned upon status as a student,
- records related to treatment provided by a health professional when maintained solely for treatment purposes,
- records created or received about an individual after that person is no longer a student if not related to that student’s attendance, e.g. alumni records,
- materials in any admissions files, until the student, has been admitted to, and has attended the UM-Dearborn school or college for which the materials were submitted, and
- all other records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of Education Records.
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 to conduct learning analytics.
A University official is (i) any person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position; (ii) a person elected to the Board of Regents; (iii) any person serving on an official University committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks; or (iv) a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other person who is performing a specific task on behalf of the University. With regard to (iv), such person is considered a University official only if the task they perform is one for which the University would otherwise use its own employees and they are under the direct control of the University or University official with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from Education Records.
Directory information may appear in public documents and may otherwise be released to individuals outside the University without the student's specific consent unless the student has opted out of disclosure. 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
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 pages in the Student Information System 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 created or received about an individual after that person is no longer a student if not related to that student’s attendance, e.g. alumni records. FERPA does not cover materials in any admissions files, until the student has been admitted to, and has attended the UM-Dearborn school or college for which the materials were submitted.
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 for a University official to carry out his or her responsibilities or to conduct learning analytics). 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.
FERPA allows the institution the right to disclose student education records or identifiable information without the student's consent under certain circumstances. Authorized disclosures of personally identifiable information from an education record without the student's prior written or authenticated electronic consent may include but are not limited to:
- disclosures to appropriate individuals if the University determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals;
- disclosures to a University Official with a Legitimate Educational Interest;
- permitted disclosures to state and local education authorities;
- information in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid,
- disclosures for the purpose of accreditation;
- disclosures to individuals or organizations conducting studies, including development and validation of predictive tests, for the administration of student aid programs, or for improvement of instruction;
- disclosures to parents of a student (a) regarding the student's violation of any federal, state, or local law, or (b) if the University determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21, any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- information forwarded to schools where the student plans to enroll or transfer; and
- by judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
The University of Michigan does not routinely disclose information to parents without the student's consent on the basis of the student status as federal tax dependents.
State and Local Education Authorities may allow access to student records to third parties with a 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.
If information from the student’s record is subpoenaed or required by judicial order, a reasonable attempt to notify the student will be made as quickly as possible unless the order or subpoena prohibits such notice.
In addition, the results of a disciplinary hearing conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence will be made available to the alleged victim of that crime.
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; 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.
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.
At the postsecondary level, parents and others have no inherent rights to inspect a student's education records.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn policy and practice is to not disclose information without the student's written or authenticated electronic consent to a parent or a spouse.
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 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
- request a hearing
- file a complaint with the United States Department of Education.
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, identification numbers, attitude, motivation, abilities, socioeconomic background, race, gender, date of birth) conveyed in writing, in person, electronically, or via telephone to third parties. Student written or authenticated electronic consent is required to release this information.
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
Any document containing personally identifiable information must be disposed of properly and confidentially (shred, incinerate, etc.)