Catalog 2023-2024

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a set of federal regulations that state (a) that a written institutional policy must be established and (b) that a statement of adopted procedures covering the privacy rights of students must be made available. The regulations provide that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.  The University defines a student as a person who is or has been in attendance. A student is considered to be “in attendance” on the first day of classes or the date in which the student takes occupancy in a University residence, whichever is earlier.

The University accords all the rights under FERPA to students who are declared “independent.” No one outside the institution shall have access to, nor will the institution disclose any information from, students’ education records without the written consent of students, except to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll, to persons acting as an official agent of the University to perform contracted functions on behalf of UT, to persons or organizations providing students with financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the Act.  In the event of a health or safety emergency, the University will determine whether proxy may be granted to either the named individual that the student designated on their FERPA release form, or to the student’s emergency contact. When proxy is granted, that individual may conduct university business on the student’s behalf or access the student’s records.

The University may, upon request, disclose any information to parents of students who are “dependent” as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152.

Within the University community, only those members, individually or collectively, with legitimate educational interest are allowed access to student education records. Legitimate educational interest is when one has a need to access student education records for the purpose of performing an assigned educational, research or administrative function for the institution. These members include personnel in the Registrar’s Office, Admissions, Student Affairs, the Athletic Department, Financial Aid, Safety and Security, the library and academic personnel within the limitations of their need to know.

Upon request, the University discloses educational records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

At its discretion, the University may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include the following:

  • student name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • photograph
  • email address
  • date and place of birth
  • major or field of study
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status
  • degrees and awards received
  • the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of members of athletic teams.

Students may elect to have directory information withheld by notifying the registrar in writing within five days after the first day of class for the fall semester.

Requests for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution for only one academic year; therefore, authorization to withhold directory information must be filed annually, during the first week of the fall semester, in the Registrar’s Office. Authorization to withhold directory information filed in the student’s senior year will remain upon graduation unless the student notifies the Registrar’s Office in writing to release the hold.

FERPA provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their education records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they find the decisions of the hearing panels unacceptable. The Registrar at the University has been designated to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, personnel, academic and financial files, and academic and placement records. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Registrar listing the specific item or items of interest to view. Only records covered by the act will be made available within 45 days of the request. Students may have copies made of the specified requested portion of their records with certain exceptions (e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial “hold” exists or a transcript of an original or source document that exists elsewhere). These copies are made at the students’ expense at 10 cents for each sheet. Education records do not include the following: records which are in the sole possession of their makers and are not accessible or revealed to any individual; records of the University Campus Safety Office; student health records; employment records where student status is not a condition of being employed.

Students may not inspect or review the following as outlined by the Act: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the University will permit access only to that part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student.

As of Jan. 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights may discuss their objections informally with the Registrar’s Office. If the decisions are in agreement with the students’ requests, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the students will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and they will be informed by the Registrar’s Office of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the provost, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the students’ expense. The hearing panels that will adjudicate such challenges will be the provost and representatives of student affairs.

Decisions of the hearing panels will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decisions of the hearing panels, if the decisions are in favor of the students. If the decisions are unsatisfactory to the students, the students may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panels. The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the students’ records and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges are unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the president of the University. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged may file complaints with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-5920, concerning the alleged failures of the University to comply with the Act.

Revisions and clarifications will be published as experience with the statute and the University’s policy warrant.