FERPA for Faculty, Staff and
What is FERPA?
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as
Amended. It is commonly known as FERPA, the Privacy Act or the Buckley
Amendment. It is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational
records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their
educational records and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate
and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
FERPA allows release of specified items but does not require it. Items that
may be released are called directory information. North Central Texas College
has classified these items as directory information: student's name, local
address, permanent address, local telephone number, place of birth, dates of
attendance, major, classification, enrollment status (full-time or part-time),
previous institution(s) attended, degree(s) awarded, academic honors/awards,
sports participation and weight/height of athletes.
Students may place a directory hold on any or all of this information by
completing the Hold Directory Information form and turning it in to the
Items that cannot be identified as directory information are
a student's social security number or institutional identification number,
race/ethnicity, citizenship, nationality, gender, grades, GPA or class schedule.
What is a student education record?
Any record, with certain exceptions, maintained by an institution that is
directly related to a student or students. This record can contain a student's
name, or students' names, or information from which an individual student, or
students, can be personally (individually) identified. These records include
files, documents and materials in whatever medium (handwriting, print, monitor
screen, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche or notes) that contain
information directly related to students and from which students can be
If ever in doubt whether information may be released, DON'T
. Please call the Registrar at 940-668-4222. The registrar will help
you determine if the information is an educational record and/or whether it may
be disclosed without written consent. To be safe, always think written
What is legitimate educational interest?
A legitimate educational interest shall mean any authorized interest, or
activity undertaken in the name of the college for which access to an
educational record is necessary or appropriate to the proper performance of the
This means if a student is assigned to you for advising, you have a
legitimate educational interest and may access his/her records. If a good
friend asks you to tell him the grades his daughter has made, DON'T. This has
two problems. First unless this student is your advisee, you do not have a
legitimate educational interest. Second if the parent has not filed the
Certification of Dependency form with the Office of the Registrar, the parent is
not entitled to this information.
In post-secondary institutions, the student "owns" his/her educational record
from the first term of enrollment. This has nothing to do with age of the
Letters of Recommendation
Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that
person's personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from
the student who is the subject of the recommendation. However, if personally
identifiable information obtained from a student's educational record is
included (GPA, grades, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release
from the student. This letter would become a part of the student's educational
record and the student has the right to read it unless he/she has waived that
Posting of grades by Faculty
The public posting of grades either by the student's name, institutional
student identification number, social security number or any portion of the
number without the student's written permission is a violation of FERPA. This
includes posting grades to a class/institutional website and applies to any
public posting of grades for students taking distance education courses.
Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers are considered
personally identifiable information. The practice of posting grades by social
security number, student identification number or any portion of the number
Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student's privacy.
There is no guarantee of confidentiality of sending grades via 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. A third party in this definition could be
parents or guardians, boyfriend or girlfriend, roommate, etc. Only secure web
sites are approved by FERPA for accessing grade information.
Penalties for violating FERPA
The Family Policy Compliance Office reviews and investigates complaints of
violations of FERPA. The penalty for violating FERPA can be loss of all
federal funding, including grants and financial aid.
Special "don'ts" for Faculty
To avoid violations of FERPA rules, DO NOT:
- At any time use the social security number, institutional identification
number or any portion of the number of a student in a public posting of grades
- Ever link the name of a student with that student's social security number,
institutional identification number in any public manner
- Leave graded tests or papers in a stack for students to pick up by sorting
through the tests or papers of all students
- Circulate a printed class list with student name and social security
number/institutional identification number or grades as an attendance roster
- Discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student
(including parents/guardians) without the consent of the student
- Provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any
- Provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than college
employees in finding a student on campus
- Discuss with another faculty member the GPA of a student
The staff members of the Office
of the Registrar are available to assist you in dealing with issues relating to
FERPA. If you have questions please call Kari Ford at 940-668-4222 or Donna Merrick at 940-498-6284. Click FERPA for more information.