Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records.
This law prohibits Financial Aid, Registrar, Fiscal Services, and many other UTSA departments from releasing any specific student education information without the student’s written permission. Parents, guardians, spouses, etc., cannot have access to the student’s education records, including account information unless the student has granted authorization through a FERPA/Proxy account in ASAP.
Disclosure: The One Stop Enrollment Center (who provides support for Admissions, Registrar and Financial Aid) reserves the right not to release grades or GPA over the phone, even if a Student Authorization to Release Education Records Form is on file.
What are your rights as a student?
The primary rights protected under FERPA are:
- Students’ rights to review and inspect their education records within 45 days from the day the University receives a request for access
- Students’ rights to have their education records amended or corrected
- Students’ rights to control disclosure of certain portions of their education records
- Students’ rights to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education regarding alleged failures to comply with FERPA. Complaints of alleged violations may be sent to:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education website at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.
What are considered education records?
Education records are all records maintained by UTSA about individual students. These records can be in any medium (handwritten, email, print, microfilm or other formats) maintained by the university.
In accordance with FERPA, UTSA has designated the following categories of information about individual students as public or directory information. This information will be routinely released to any inquirer unless the student specifically requests that all or part of the following list be withheld:
- Address and telephone number
- Email address
- Place of birth
- Major field of study
- Enrollment status
- Dates of attendance (in person or by correspondence, Internet or other electronic and telecommunications technologies)
- Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
- Degrees, certificates and awards received
- Date of graduation
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Physical factors (height and weight) of athletes
UTSA will honor a student’s request to withhold any of the items of public records information listed, but cannot assume responsibility to contact a student for subsequent permission to release the information. Regardless of the effect upon a student, the university assumes no liability for honoring a student’s request that such information is withheld. Students wishing to restrict access to some or all public information in their education record must do so through the FERPA/Proxy option on ASAP.
Research Papers and Theses
The University may disclose research papers and theses authored by the student to interested members of the public.
The following categories of information are considered private or protected, by UTSA:
- Social Security Number
- UTSA student ID number
- Residency status
- Marital status
- Married name or previous name
- Parents’ name and address
- Transfer credits
- Courses completed
- Grade point average
- Rank in class
- Current class schedule
- Advisor’s name
- Academic status
- Current disciplinary actions
Private Records may be released only to the following parties:
- Individual students
- Dean’s Office
- University academic departments
- Appropriate school officials who have legitimate educational interests (see definition of “school official” on next page)
What are not considered education records?
The following are not considered education records:
- Personal notes of UTSA faculty and staff
- Employment records (unless employment is contingent on the individual’s status as a student)
- Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment
- Campus Security records
- Financial records of a parent or spouse
- Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in your record
- Records that contain only information about an individual obtained after the individual was no longer a student at UTSA
- Records of applicants for admission who were denied acceptance or chose not to attend
Who can request access to your education record?
Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before a student’s education record may be disclosed to a third party, unless they are exempted from this provision. Information will be released without your prior written consent to the following groups or individuals:
- Appropriate school officials who have legitimate educational interests (“school official” means a person either: (1) employed by UTSA in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, (2) serving on a UTSA governing body, (3) under contract to UTSA to perform a special task or service, or (4) who is a student serving in an official capacity for UTSA)
- Representatives of agencies or organizations from which you have received financial aid, including banks or other lending agencies from which you have guaranteed student loans
- Officials of other educational institutions in which you intend to enroll
- Individuals or groups specifically exempted from the prior consent requirement
- Federal and state officials, accrediting organizations and organizations conducting studies on behalf of UTSA
- Parents of a student who is a dependent for income tax purposes provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance
- The alleged victim of a violent crime or non-forcible sex offense may view the final results of the alleged perpetrator’s disciplinary proceeding
- Instances in which prior written consent is not required:
- Requests in connection with an emergency, if such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or another person
- Requests in accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order
- Requests for “public records” information, if not restricted by the student
- When the student violates a law or the university’s policies governing alcohol or substance abuse if the student is under the age of 21
What is Prior Written Consent?
The University must obtain prior written consent from students before disclosing any personally identifiable information from their education records.
The prior written consent must:
- Specify the records to be released
- State the purpose of the disclosure
- Identify the party(ies) to whom disclosure may be made
- Be signed and dated by the student
Reviewing your education records
Eligible students must be given access to review and inspect their education records. Requests to access your education records must be made in writing and submitted to the Office of the Registrar or to your college dean, department chair or another appropriate official. For details on how to request access to your records, refer to UTSA Student Policies.
Students may not have access to:
- Parent’s financial records (without written consent from the parent)
- Law Enforcement records
- Medical, psychiatric or similar records in connection with the treatment of the student
- Letters or statements of recommendation which were placed in the education record prior to January 1, 1975
Parents and FERPA
FERPA rights transfer to a student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution (regardless of age). Parents or guardians may not have access to a student’s education record without the written consent of the student.
How to Release Information to a Parent or Third Party (FERPA Proxy)
Follow these 5 simple steps to provide FERPA/Proxy access to your account:
- Log into your student ASAP account
- Under the FERPA/Proxy tab, add FERPA/Proxy user (this will be the users information)
- Expand FERPA/Proxy user to then select TYPE and create a Security Phrase (used for authentication)
- Select appropriate check boxes under the Authorization tab
- Email Authorizations to your selected FERPA/Proxy
Helpful Hint: Each FERPA/Proxy user assigned must have their own unique email address.
Request for Confidentiality (Restrict Directory Information)
Directory information means information contained in an educational record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. FERPA regulations specifically prohibit the disclosure of a student’s Social Security Number as directory information.
Students may have all directory information withheld by submitting the Restrict Student Directory Information Request form to the One Stop Enrollment Center. The request for confidentiality will remain in effect until the student makes written authorization to release the information. The request for confidentiality applies to insurance companies, potential employers, and other interested parties. All UTSA e-mail addresses, including Blackboard Learn course e-mail addresses, are subject to restriction. Students are advised to consider carefully the impact of having directory information withheld.