FERPA Information for Faculty and Staff
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (commonly referred to as FERPA) helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding. In accordance with FERPA, Kettering University has policies and procedures in place to protect the privacy of education records. Students will be notified of their FERPA rights annually by publication in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs and by an annual email message to students at the beginning of the academic year.
When do FERPA rights begin?
FERPA rights begin when a student enrolls and begins attending Kettering University.
What information about students may be released to faculty members and other University staff members?
Items defined as directory information may be released without a student’s written permission, provided that the student has not chosen to restrict his or her directory information. All other personally identifiable information in a student’s educational record is confidential and may be disclosed to appropriate University faculty and staff members only if their normal job duties require such access.
What is Directory Information?
Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Kettering University has established the following as Directory Information and it may be released to those requesting it unless the student specifically requests otherwise by submitting written notification to the Office of the Registrar.
- Corporate affiliation
- Degrees awarded, including dates (actual and expected)
- Dates of attendance
- Degree program (major field of study, concentrations and minors)
- Degrees and honors awarded (including Dean’s List)
- Enrollment Status (including full or part-time)
- Honor Societies
- Previous institutions attended
- Class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate student)
- Name, address and phone number
- E-mail address
Students have the option to withhold directory information by requesting a “Confidential Status” on their record. This is done through the Office of the Registrar. If a student has chosen to restrict the release of directory information, no information can be released without further written permission of the student. Class rosters will note whether a student has this designation. Should someone inquire about an individual who has restricted the release of his/her directory information, the appropriate faculty/staff response is, “I am sorry, I do not have any information on that person.” Questions can be referred to the Office of the Registrar.
Do I have to release information from a student’s educations record?
FERPA regulations state that you may release directory information about a student, but FERPA does not require or compel you to do so.
May I access confidential information about students?
Access to personally identifiable information contained in educational records may be given to appropriate University administrators, faculty members, or staff members who require this access to perform their legitimate educational duties. Faculty members do not have access to student academic records unless their normal job duties specifically require access. This type of access is termed “legitimate educational interest.”
How does FERPA affect letters of recommendation?
Writing a letter of recommendation may require written, signed consent from the student to allow you to disclose confidential information about the student to a third party. Personal observations about a student may be disclosed without the student’s consent. However, FERPA protected information such as grades and GPA requires written, signed consent from the student. FERPA forms are available on the Office of the Registrar Website, under Forms.
What information about students may I disclose to parents?
Without the express, written permission of the student, parents, like all other third parties, including designees, may have access only to the student’s directory information. If a student has restricted his or her directory information, then the directory information is considered confidential and you should respond to any inquiries by saying “I have no information to provide about that individual.” Confidential information may be released to parents only with signed, written consent from the student. You may check with the Office of the Registrar to see if that consent is on file. As a rule “When in doubt, don’t give it out.”
Does FERPA affect the return of assignments?
Personally identifiable information about a student may not be disclosed without the student’s written consent. Therefore, extreme care should be used to protect such information (e.g., student ID numbers) when returning assignments, term papers and exams to students.
Does FERPA affect the posting of grades?
Yes. The disclosure of personally identifiable information without the student’s written consent is a violation of FERPA. Faculty members may use student-specific, password-protected systems (such as Blackboard) to communicate academic work, grades or other confidential information to students on an individual basis.
How does FERPA affect email communication?
Kettering University has established the following policy regarding emailing communication and FERPA.
Email Communication and FERPA
Simply emailing FERPA protected information (such as grades) to students is not a violation of FERPA. However, if the email were to result in a disclosure to anyone other than the student, it might be considered a violation of FERPA. Kettering University utilizes best practices for emailing FERPA protected information to students since there is no guarantee of confidentiality. As such, please note the following when communicating FERPA protected information through email:
- Send messages only from a Kettering University issued email account.
- Send messages only to the intended recipient(s) and to their Kettering University issued email account.
- When communicating with former students who do not have an active Kettering email account: Do not send FERPA protected information to a non-Kettering issued email account without obtaining written authorization from the student to exchange this information to/from the specified email account.
A note to faculty/course instructors:
Blackboard is the official course management system used by Kettering University and is available for you to provide course and grade information to students throughout the term. Blackboard is both FERPA and Kettering compliant provided it is used properly. If you use email as a standard means to communicate assignment grades, course progress, etc. to students in your class, you must inform them of this in advance in the course syllabus and provide them with the option to refuse this means of communication. If a student refuses this means of communication, you may not use email to send this information to that particular student. The best practices noted above apply when using email.
How do I properly dispose of confidential information?
Dispose of all material containing confidential information (such as tests, papers, class rosters) by shredding or by placing them in a receptacle intended for the collection of material to be disposed of in a secure manner.
FERPA Questions or Concerns
Office of the University Registrar
Room 3-309 AB