Family Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records. The law applies to those institutions that regularly receive federal funding from the Department of Education and is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

More information regarding FERPA can be found at ed.gov.

Who is eligible to be covered by FERPA?

FERPA defines an eligible student as a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of postsecondary education. Your FERPA rights begin as of the day you officially enroll in a course at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

What rights do students have under FERPA?

Students have four primary rights under FERPA:

  1. To inspect and review their education records.
  2. To seek to amend those education records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading.
  3. To have some control over the disclosure of information from those education records.
  4. To file a complaint concerning alleged failures by an institution to comply with FERPA regulations within 180 days.

How can FERPA violation cases be reported?

Complaints of alleged violations may be addressed to:

Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920

If you would like to notify the University of a FERPA violation, please click here.

What is an education record?

FERPA defines an education record as information in any format that directly identifies an individual and is maintained by the institution or a party acting for the institution. There are two kinds of records:

  1. Directory or public information is information that is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released. Directory information includes student’s full name, address (local and permanent), email, phone numbers, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees/awards received, most recent previous school attended, enrollment status (classification, under/grad, part/full-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight/height of members of athletic team, and photograph.
  2. Non-directory information is information that is not considered to be directory information, such as enrollment records, grades, schedules.

Students may choose to withhold release of directory information. A student may do so by completing the “Request for Confidentiality of Directory Information” form inside the FERPA Packet.

What are the exceptions to education records?

There are five exceptions to education records:

  1. Sole Possession Records – Records kept in someone’s “sole possession” and never shared with anyone else.
  2. Law Enforcement Records – Records that are created by and maintained by a law enforcement agency for the purposes of law enforcement.
  3. Employment Records – These records are not education records unless employment is conditional upon the individual being a student.
  4. Medical Records – Records created, maintained and used by professional healthcare workers for the purposes of providing healthcare services. Medical records, however, can become education records when they are used to justify, support, or elucidate some situation connected with an individual’s student status.
  5. Alumni Records – Records that are created and maintained by an alumni association, usually for social and fund-raising purposes.

What are the disclosure exceptions?

There are some disclosure exceptions. Prior written consent is not required when disclosure is made under the following conditions:

  1. To UNTD officials who have a legitimate educational interest.* This includes the following:
    1. A person employed by UNTD in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or other support staff position
    2. A person serving on an institutional governing body
    3. A person employed by, or under contract to, the institution to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor
  2. To schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll
  3. To authorized state and local representatives, subject to the requirements in Sec. 99.35
  4. In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or received
  5. To certain state and local officials or authorities, subject to the requirements in Sec. 99.38
  6. To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions
  7. To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions
  8. To parents, as defined in Sec. 99.3, of a dependent student, as defined in Sec. 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
  9. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  10. In connection with a health or safety emergency
  11. Information the educational agency or institution has designated as “directory information”
  12. To the parent of a student who is not an eligible student or to the student
  13. To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements in Sec. 99.39
  14. In connection with a disciplinary proceeding at an institution of postsecondary education, subject to the requirements in Sec. 99.39
  15. To a parent of a student at an institution of postsecondary education regarding the student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if:
    1. The institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and
    2. The student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure to the parent.
  16. The Solomon Amendment which requires institutions to release certain directory information to military recruiters. (If a confidentiality request was made by the student, then information will not be released.)

*UNTD defines legitimate educational interest as a school official’s need to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University.

How can students request confidentiality on their record?

Students may ensure their directory information is not shared with outside sources by completing a Request for Confidentiality form. This form can be found inside the FERPA Packet.

How can students request corrections to their record?

Students may challenge the contents of educational records and request corrections to inaccurate or misleading information. Any request for correction or explanation of record contents should be presented in writing to the person in charge of the office where the record is maintained.