Frequently Asked Questions - Students

Frequently Asked Questions

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UNL has determined that for the purpose of FERPA, the ‘first day’ of attendance shall be the day on which an individual student has both paid any required enrollment deposit and has officially enrolled in classes for his or her initial term at UNL.

FERPA defines basic rights for students.

The University is allowed to select some information about a student to make accessible to the public. This information is called "Directory Information." UNL has two levels of directory information. Public Directory Information is student information that is available to the public. This allows individuals such as employers or insurance agents to verify enrollment. Non-Public Directory Information is not available to the public, but is available to any University Official, student, or, at the University's discretion, University affiliates such as alumni associations. The directory information UNL has selected is the following:

Public Directory Information

  • Student name
  • Year at the University
  • Dates of attendance
  • Academic college and major field of study
  • Enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time)
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Degrees, honors and awards received
  • Most recent educational agency or institution attended

Non-Public Directory Information

  • Local address
  • Permanent address
  • Telephone listings
  • University email address

Directory information cannot include race, gender, SSN (or any part of SSN), grades, GPA, country of citizenship, ID number, or religion.

Students may restrict access to their directory information in MyRED.

Students have the right to see everything in their educational record except:

  • Information about other students
  • Financial records of parents
  • Confidential letters of recommendation if they waived their right of access.

FERPA does not prescribe what records are created or how long they are to be kept; however, the University cannot destroy a record if there is a request to inspect and review. The University of Nebraska has official policies for student records; however, each type of record is kept for a type-specific time, typically ranging from “One Term” to “Permanent.” Please see this table or contact Steven Booton at sbooton2@unl.edu

The individual writing a letter or recommendation is permitted to include details about the student as long as the information falls under public directory information and does not qualify as educational records or non-public directory information. For example, the writer can state, “Exceptional Student,” but cannot say, “Earned an A in my class.” However, the author may include non-directory information or non-public directory information in his letter if written consent from the student is first obtained.

Yes. In case of an emergency, FERPA allows the University to release non-directory information to appropriate parties (such as parents or law enforcement) if the information is necessary to the health or safety of the student or others.

The following records are excluded from the definition of educational records:

  • "Sole possession" records made by faculty and staff for their own use as reference or memory aids and not shared with others
  • Personal observations
  • University law enforcement records
  • Medical and mental health records used only for the treatment of the student
  • Alumni records
  • Peer graded papers and exams prior to the grade being recorded in the instructor's grade book

Unless the notes are for the author’s own personal use and not shared then they are part of the student's educational record and subject to FERPA. Since FERPA gives the student the right to review any or all of his/her educational record, these notes could be included in that review.

No, parents do not have access to a student’s records unless the student provides them with a guest account or if they prove that the student is their IRS dependent.

No. FERPA enforces the right to inspect and review records, not obtain copies. However, if denying copies to the student results in them not being able to examine their records, a copy must be provided.

The same FERPA regulations that apply to on-campus students also apply to distance learning students. FERPA defines a student as “an individual who is or has been 'in attendance' at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains educational records.”

FERPA applies to students who have reached the age of 18 OR attend a post-secondary institution. This is an either/or situation. If a minor is enrolled at UNL, enrollment means that the minor is a student of a post-secondary institution. FERPA applies to that individual as it would to any other student at UNL.

No. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln may disclose educational records without consent under certain requirements and exceptions. These include:

  • School officials that have a legitimate educational interest
  • When there is a significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals
  • Returning records to the provider or creator of the information
  • Educational institutions where the student plans to enroll or transfer
  • Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoena
  • Court orders
  • Any records included under the directory information unless they have been restricted by the student
  • Parents if the students are Federal IRS dependents; proof of dependency is required
  • Third parties with written agreement in conjunction with the evaluation of federal or state supported educational programs

"University officials" are university employees or third parties under contract with the University to achieve educational missions of the University. This includes but is not limited to faculty, staff, advisors, counselors, employment placement personnel, deans, department chairpersons, directors, university police, health staff and development officers.

A UNL official has legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for UNL.

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