Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA Policy

Student education records are official and confidential documents protected by one of the nation's strongest privacy protection laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Educational records, as defined by FERPA, include all records that schools or education agencies maintain about students. FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. These rights include:

1.  The right to inspect and review their records. Students should contact the Office of the Registrar to determine the location of appropriate records and the procedure for reviewing such records.

2.  The right to request that records believed to be inaccurate or misleading be amended. The request should be submitted in writing to the University office responsible for maintaining the record. If the request for change is denied, the student has a right to a hearing on the issue.

3.  The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records. Generally, the University must have written permission from the student before releasing any information from the student's record. FERPA does however authorize disclosure without consent in certain situations. For example, disclosure without consent can be made to school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the record.

A school official is a person employed by UNK in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position; a person or company with whom UNK has contracted, such as National Student Clearing House or Constant Contract; a person serving on the Board of Regents; a student serving on an official committee (such as grievance or disciplinary committee) or assisting another school official in performing his/her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if he/she must review the educational record in order to fulfill his/her official responsibilities.

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records- including Social Security Number, grades, or other private information- may be accessed without student consent. The U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to education records and private information without consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority for the purpose of evaluating federal- or state- support education programs. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Also, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to student education records and PII without specific consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when the university objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without student consent PII from education records, and they may track student participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to personal information that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

Upon request, UNK will disclose education records without consent to officials of another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. UNK may also disclose "directory" information without the student's prior consent. Directory information has been defined as:

  • Student Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Most recent previous education institution or agency attended
  • Current enrollment status

Students have the right to prevent directory information from being released.  In order to maintain directory information as confidential, a student must sign a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information at the Office of the Registrar by the end of the first week of the semester/summer term.  Directory information will be flagged as restricted until the student notifies the Registrar’s Office in writing that the restriction should be lifted. 

4.  The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by UNK to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

For additional information or to review the complete text of the UNK FERPA policy, contact the Office of the Registrar, Founders Hall (308) 865-8527.