FERPA Basics

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and is a federal law that was enacted in 1974. FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. All educational institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA

As a Faculty or Staff member, it is important to understand student rights under FERPA. As an employee, you are obligated to comply with FERPA and to protect those records according to the law. If you receive a request from a 3rd party for a student's information, locate and verify a 3rd Party Release before complying with the request.

*One-Time only training for security access

Student’s Rights Under FERPA

FERPA gives a student five basic rights with respect to their education record:

  • The right to control disclosure of their education record
  • The right to review their education record
  • The right to request amendment of inaccurate or misleading portions of their education record
  • The right to request a hearing
  • The right to file a complaint regarding non-compliance of FERPA with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education

Directory & Non-Directory Information

Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a student’s prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks.

If a student does not want the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to disclose any or all of the types of information designated below as directory information without prior written consent, students will add a “no-release” indicator on their record through their MyUNLV account. Students may also designate access to Non-Directory information to a third party by entering the release through their MyUNLV account (see the pdf instructions for Disclosure above). The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has designated the following information as directory information:

Directory

  • Address
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Campus
  • Admission/Enrollment
  • Class Level
  • Major
  • Enrollment Dates
  • Degrees Received
  • School or Division
  • Email Address

Non-Directory

  • NSHE ID Number
  • Place and Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • High School(s) and Marital Status
  • Academic Status (ie: Probation)
  • Grade/GPA/Honors
  • Testing Information
  • Class Schedule
  • Country of Citizenship

Education Records

Any record that directly relates to a student and is maintained by the institution or a party acting on behalf of the institution is considered an education record. Protected education records can be maintained in paper, digital/electronic, and other formats. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Transcripts
  • Class Schedules
  • Daily Attendance
  • Degree Audit Reports
  • Class Rosters
  • Grades
  • Advising Notes
  • Financial Records

The following records are excluded from the definition of education records:

  • “Sole possession” records made by faculty and staff for their own use as reference or memory aids and not shared with others
  • Personal observations
  • University law enforcement records
  • Medical and mental health records used only for the treatment of the student
  • Alumni records
  • Peer-graded papers and exams prior to the grade being recorded in the instructor’s grade book

When FERPA Rights Begin

Any person who attends or has attended UNLV is considered a student. A student is considered to be an “attending student” if he or she:

  • Has been admitted;
  • Is currently attending UNLV classes (either as an on-campus or distance student); or
  • Is a continuing student

At a postsecondary institution, rights belong to the student in attendance (not the parent) regardless of age. Persons who have applied for admissions, but have NOT been admitted to UNLV are NOT covered by FERPA

Release without Prior Consent

There are scenarios when you may not have prior consent from a student but you may release information. You may release directory or non-directory information in the following* scenarios:

  • The information is being requested by a school official with a Legitimate Educational Interest
  • Disclosure to organizations conducting studies to improve instruction (these requests are vetted by the Office of the Registrar and should be submitted via Report Request
  • Accrediting Organizations for programs that undergo oversight by an accrediting board (these requests are vetted by the Office of the Registrar and should be submitted via email to Registrar@unlv.edu)
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena (these requests are vetted by UNLV General Counsel  and should be submitted to them)
  • For Health and Safety Emergency

*If a student has a “no release” on their record, you cannot release ANY information to a third party whether it is directory OR non-directory.

Faculty and Staff Recommendations

Do:

  • Return papers and tests in a secure manner
  • Develop retention practices for sensitive information, keeping ONLY what is necessary
  • Dispose of material containing confidential student information by shredding or placing them in a receptacle intended for disposal of confidential information

Do Not:

  • Disclose information to a student or University official before authenticating the identity of the person
  • Disclose confidential non-directory information about a student to the media
  • Link a student’s name with his/her social security number, student ID number, or any portion of these numbers
  • Send confidential information such as grades in an email
  • Include confidential information such as grades or GPA in a recommendation without the written consent of the student
  • Provide anyone with lists or files of students enrolled in your class for any commercial purpose
  • Provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university employees in finding a student on campus. Refer such inquiries to Campus Police
  • Access the records of any student for personal reasons
  • Discuss personal information in front of friends/parents without consent