Office of the University Registrar

FERPA for Staff and Faculty

FERPA Overview

FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) was enacted in 1974. It is a set of regulations that apply 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, Zoom recording, Canvas or other LMS education records and others.

FERPA for students provides additional information for students.

FERPA Training

The FERPA Training Course video is 11 minutes long. Watching this video provides you with recommendations for common FERPA-related issues that occur at the University. Watch the video and complete the voluntary quiz to receive a PDF certificate as a record of training completion.

*Note: users must log in with their personal UWNetID.

FERPA training course

Directory Information Release

You must confirm in a UW system of record, such as the Student Database, EARS, or MyGradPlan, that the student has not opted out of directory information release. For example, if the student has indicated in MyUW that they wish to opt out of directory information release, you may not release that information. If you cannot confirm whether or not a student has opted out, do not release.

SDB Screen 305

Students Who Have Not Opted Out

Upon confirmation that a student has not opted out, the following information may be released pursuant to WAC 478-140-024(5). You may release any or all of this information, but you are not required to do so, except to the student:

  • Student’s name
  • Street address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Major and minor field(s) of studies
  • Class
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Weight and height, if student is a member of an intercollegiate athletic team

Students Who Have Opted Out

Upon confirmation that a student has opted out and blocked the release of directory information, no information may be released about that student. The recommended response is, “I have no information about that individual.”

Release of Records

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. Departments must have currently enrolled students submit an online Release of Records Request to identify specific UW education record(s) to be released, the recipient(s) of the records, and the purpose of the release. Once this has been received by the Office of the University Registrar, the individual department will be contacted to release the requested information.

Non-enrolled students can email to inquire about records release.


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. Staff and faculty should not communicate with each other via email and include grades in those email communications. Staff and faculty should not submit grades or grade changes to the campus Registration team via email.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendations may take the form of an original letter composed by the faculty or instructor or the completion of a form provided by the student directly or through a third party with a release.

Tips for Letters of Recommendation

  • Stick with observations of the student vs. sharing education record information such as courses taken and grades. A student can provide an official transcript for this.
  • Be clear on what the student is asking you to share and ask for this in an email for letters. Retain this for six months after the student graduates or leaves the University.
  • When completing a form, carefully check for what you are being asked to provide. Make sure you can see the release from the student. Once completed, keep a copy for your records for six months after the student graduates or leaves the University.
  • If you have any questions on writing letters or completing these forms and what to release, email

Guaranteed Student Rights Under FERPA

The student has a right to inspect and review any departmental or college records you maintain on them 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 cannot be created with the student and/or any other person present when the memory note was made. Sole possession records are not subject to FERPA.

Teaching Assistants (TA)

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.

Employment Records

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.

Registrar Contact

Contact Dr. Helen B. Garrett, University Registrar, in the Office of the University Registrar, 206-685-2553,, if you have any questions about this FERPA information.

Report a Violation

The UW Privacy Office provides a tool to report a FERPA violation or accidental release of student data. Please review the information and instructions on how to Report an Incident before submitting an incident report.

FERPA Resources

For more information on FERPA, please review the following resources: