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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for Faculty and Staff

FERPA Training

FERPA training resources are available at the website of the Office of the University Registrar:

Online FERPA training

FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) was enacted in 1974. It is a set of regulations that applies to those institutions that receive funding from the Department of Education. FERPA was written specifically for students and guarantees them the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to amend education records, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from those education records.

An education record is defined as any record that directly identifies a student and is maintained by the institution or educational agency or by a party acting for the institution or educational agency. A key distinction of education records is that education records are shared. Education records can exist in any medium including the following: handwritten, typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, e-mail, and others.

How Does This Regulation Affect You?

  1. If the student has not restricted access to directory (or public) information you may release the following:

  2. If a student has blocked release of directory information, you may not release any information about that student. We recommend you say, "I have no information about that individual."
  3. Departments may not release non-directory or personally identifiable information about a student to a third party (parents included) without the student's written authorization. You may have the student fill out a consent-to-release form if the student wants you to speak with a third party. The student must sign a new form each time s/he allows you to release non-directory information. (You can download a PDF of the consent form.)

    Do Not Release Without Written Authorization

  4. The public posting of grades either by the student's name, student number, or social security number without the student's written permission is a violation of FERPA. This includes the posting of grades to a class/institutional website and applies to any public posting of grades in hallways and in departmental offices for all students including those taking distance education courses.

    Notification of grades via e-mail is in violation of FERPA. There is no guarantee of confidentiality on the Internet. The institution would be held responsible if an unauthorized third party gained access, in any manner, to a student's education record through any electronic transmission method.

  5. The student has a right to inspect and review any departmental or college records you maintain on him/her except for 'sole possession records.' A sole possession record is a record you never share with anyone else and that is maintained solely by you. Sole possession records are not subject to FERPA.

  6. FERPA considers Teaching Assistants to be an extension of the faculty member. Faculty members may even share their sole-possession records with their TAs. However, if other faculty and department members can inspect those notes, they are no longer sole possession and become education records. Students have the right to inspect and review those records.

  7. Employment records are not education records, unless employment is conditional upon the individual being a student. Since you have to be a student to be a TA, TA employment records are education records.

Contact Virjean Edwards in the Office of the University Registrar, 206-543-3290, vedwards@u.washington.edu, if you have any questions about this information.

You may also want to review the FERPA page for students for further information.