Staff & FERPA
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT FERPA?
It is important as staff to know and understand what you can and cannot access or share with others about students.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN AS STAFF?
Never release any information about a student to the public that isn't considered public directory information. Non-directory information includes grades, class schedule, and academic standing to name a few. Be able to explain to students, parents, faculty, and advisors why you or they cannot share certain information.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLATING FERPA?
FERPA violations may result in the loss of federal funding for the University. Any breach of confidentiality could lead to disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination of employment.
IS THE UNIVERSITY REQUIRED TO RELEASE A STUDENT'S DIRECTORY INFORMATION?
No. The only required disclosure of educational records under FERPA is to the student. All other disclosures, including those with student consent and disclosures of directory information are at the discretion of the institution.
CAN STUDENTS HAVE THEIR DIRECTORY INFORMATION WITHHELD FROM THE PUBLIC?
Yes. Non-disclosure means the University may not release any public or non-public directory information about the student, except as permitted under the provisions of FERPA. The University may not even acknowledge to third parties that the person is a student.
Even though a student may have placed a FERPA restriction, the University has the right to share the student’s information, without the student’s authorization, with school officials who have a legitimate educational interest or in response to a judicial order or legally issued subpoena.
What about other student information?
Non-directory information can be shared only with that student. All other third parties are not permitted to view that student’s information (including parents, faculty, advisors etc...) unless they meet/have at least one of the following conditions:
- The written consent of the student
- School officials that have a legitimate educational interest
- When there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals
- When confirming information provided by a third party. (For example: if someone calls and provides the NUID of a student, you may include the NUID when giving them information)
- Educational institutions where the student plans to enroll or transfer
- Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoena
- 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.
Under FERPA, release of information is up to the University's discretion even if an exception is met.
WHO ARE University officials?
"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.
WHAT IS Legitimate Educational Interest?
A UNL official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for UNL.