FERPA

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records. FERPA governs the release of student education records maintained by the University and access to these records.

Students are afforded certain rights concerning their education records, including:

  • the right to inspect and review the education records
  • the right to seek to have the records amended
  • the right to have some control over the disclosure of the information from the records




What is FERPA? 

The essence of FERPA can be summarized by the following two points - confidentiality and access.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 - commonly known as FERPA, the Privacy Act, or the Buckley Amendment - is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational records. FERPA governs and protects your rights to your individual educational records.

The following primary rights are protected under FERPA:

  • Students' rights to review and inspect their educational records;
  • Students’ rights to have their educational records amended or corrected;
  • Students’ rights to control disclosure of certain portions of their educational records.

What are educational records?

An educational record is any record (in any medium), with certain exceptions, maintained by UW-Whitewater that is directly related to you as a student. This record can contain your name, several students’ names, or information that can personally (individually) identify you.

What are not educational records?

  • Personal notes of faculty and staff
  • Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment
  • University Police Services records
  • Financial records of a parent or spouse

Can I review and inspect my records?

Requests to review your records must be made in writing and presented to the appropriate office responsible for the record. The written request must indicate specifically the records you wish to review. The office will have up to 45 days to honor your request. For most students the areas responsible for your record will include the Registrar’s Office, dean and department chair’s offices of your major, academic advising offices, and possibly the Dean of Students Office.

Directory Information (Public Records)

FERPA allows for the release of specified items of information not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. UW-Whitewater, in accordance with FERPA, has designated the following categories of information about individual students as directory (public) information. This information will be released to any inquirer unless you specifically request that all of the items on the following list be withheld.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number (excluding cell)
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status (full/part time)
  • Classification (e.g., sophomore, senior, graduate student)
  • Major/minor/degree program
  • Degrees and dates of graduation, including anticipated graduation dates
  • Previous institutions attended
  • Awards and academic honors
  • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  • Physical factors (weight and height) of members of athletic teams

Non-Directory Information (Private Records)

Non-directory information includes items which are considered private, or protected, and which cannot be identified as directory information. Examples of private information include, but are not limited to:

  • Social security number
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Grades

Who can request access to your records?

Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before a student’s educational record may be disclosed to a third party, with some exceptions. FERPA allows UW-Whitewater school officials to share your educational record information (public and private information) without your written consent with other UW-Whitewater university officials who have a legitimate educational interest. Legitimate educational interest means a university official has the need to know specific information in your educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities. The school official does not have authorization to transmit, share, or disclose any or all of that information to a third party who does not have a legitimate educational interest. Instances in which prior written consent is not required for release of your record:

  • When there is a significant threat to the health and safety of you or other individuals
  • In accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order
  • Release of directory information, if not restricted
  • If you are under the age of 21, FERPA permits UW-Whitewater to inform your parent/guardian if you are found in violation of alcohol or drug rules.

Restricting your directory information:

You have the right to restrict the release of all directory information. If you wish to do so, you must complete and file the “Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information” form available in the Registrar’s Office.Please consider very carefully the consequences of restricting your directory information. Should you decide to restrict the release of your directory information, any future requests for such information from non-university parties or organizations will be refused. For example, UW-Whitewater could not:

  • An enrollment verification to your health insurance provider or a prospective employer
  • Your name in the commencement booklet
  • Your GPA
  • Your student schedule
  • Your academic standing
  • Your student ID number
  • Your student employment record

Records of campus disciplinary proceedings are considered protected with the exception of a crime of violence or of a non-forcible sex offense. FERPA affords the university discretion to disclose the final results of a disciplinary hearing regarding an incident alleged to involve acts of violence or of a non-forcible sex offense to the public. Disclosure to the victim is required.

Respect the rights of others

The university expects that you will respect the rights of faculty and other students as you participate in the educational process. Follow the guidelines below to ensure the privacy of other students:

  • When e-mailing groups of students, always use blind carbon copy (Bcc :).
  • Do not post personal information about other students on websites or share personal information via e-mail.
  • If you participate in a course that uses a course management system (e.g., D2L) you may have access to personal information and academic work produced by other students and faculty members. Examples include class lists, discussion board postings, drafts of papers, and other work produced in the course. Do not share information about classmates, course work content, or its authors to anyone outside the course.

Personally Identifiable Information Access Exceptions

Circumstances where personally identifiable information may be released without prior written consent:

  • To any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state- supported education program
  • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary for such purposes as to:
  • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense. (Only the final results of the disciplinary proceeding, regardless of whether the postsecondary institution concluded that a violation was committed.)
  • To anyone if the disclosure is in connection with a disciplinary proceeding at a postsecondary institution if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and with respect to the allegation against him or her the student has committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies
  • To organizations conducting studies on behalf of schools
  • In connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
  • To accrediting organizations
  • To parents of a dependent student
  • To comply with a judicial order or subpoena (reasonable effort to notify)
  • In a health or safety emergency
  • To schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll

How to Protect Your Own Records

Know what information you have elected to withhold and/or disclose, and review it regularly

  • Be careful about sharing private information via cell phones and other wireless technology
  • Take caution when using websites, electronic communication, and social media. Do not reveal information that compromises your privacy or the privacy of others
  • Educate yourself about safe computing and protecting your privacy

Frequently asked questions

Will my family have access to my information?

Generally not. Without your express, written permission, your family, like all other third parties, may have access only to your directory information. We encourage you to talk with your family to discuss grades, classes, class schedules, financial statements, or other private information. The only way for your family to receive this information is for you to provide it to them. Student records (e.g., grades and financial statements) are available on the WINS account. You should never share your NetID and password with your family or others.

Will the university contact my parents if I get in trouble?

If you are under the age of 21, FERPA permits UW-Whitewater to inform your parent/guardian if you are found in violation of alcohol or drug rules.

Does FERPA prevent the university from sharing information about troubled students?

UW-Whitewater may disclose information from education records, without consent, to appropriate parties whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of you or other individuals.

Complaints

You have the right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education concerning alleged failures by UW Whitewater to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The complaint must contain specific allegations of facts providing cause to believe that a violation of FERPA has occurred.

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520

Questions?  Contact the Registrar's Office at 262-472-1570


Enrolled students, as well as faculty and staff, can refer to the following notification statements for information on student rights concerning confidentiality and access of student education records maintained at UW-Whitewater.

Your Rights as a Student

Faculty, Staff and Student Employee Notification