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 applies 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, and others.

FERPA for students provides additional information for students.

FERPA Training

This online module takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and 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 NetID.

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.

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):

  • 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 a 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 ferpa@uw.edu to inquire about records release.

Grades

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.

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 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 Helen Garrett in the Office of the University Registrar, 206-685-2553, helenbg@uw.edu, 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: