Understanding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Faculty will find information regarding FERPA and guidelines for protecting student identity and privacy.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) places certain restrictions on the kinds of information about students that can be shared without explicit permission from the student.  FERPA permits information sharing for emergencies and in other situations where help is needed.  For more information regarding FERPA at UWF, contact the UWF Office of General Counsel at 850.474.3420 or gcfrontdesk@uwf.edu.

Guidelines to Protect the Identity and Privacy of Students

Instructional personnel should adhere to the following guidelines to protect the identity and privacy of students at the University of West Florida:

  1. Do not leave graded material (exams, papers, etc.) in a public area for other students (or anyone else) to see;
  2. Do not post grades publicly in any way that includes names or any part of ID numbers; instead, use the eLearning grade book for electronic grade dissemination;
  3. Do not store protected digital student information on a USB flash drive or other device that is not password protected. If a device containing protected information is lost or stolen, report that information to your chair or director as soon as possible;
  4. Do not pass around attendance sheets in class that include student PIDs, which are to be kept private;
  5. Do not ask students to provide social security numbers for any purpose;
  6. Do not use the telephone or email to provide assignment or final grades to your students (Face-to-face dissemination is required, unless you use the officially sanctioned electronic means of the eLearning grade book. The communication of individual comments and feedback via email, however, is permitted); and
  7. Do not discuss a student’s grades or performance in class with anyone other than the student or a UWF employee who needs the information for an official purpose, unless you have written confirmation from the UWF Registrar’s Office that the student has completed and signed a  (PDF).

Additional Information about FERPA Constraints on Sharing Information about Students

There are various sources where a faculty member can gain additional information about FERPA, such as the following:

The UWF Registrar's Office maintains a Frequently Asked Questions webpage on FERPA.  Faculty should visit this site to become acquainted with FERPA.  Faculty with questions should consult with their chair or director.  If unsure, call the Office of the General Counsel at 850.474.3420 or gcfrontdesk@uwf.edu.

The  U.S. Department of Education provides an overview of FERPA on its web site.

The National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) has published a “FERPA and Campus Safety” Q & A to provide accurate information about FERPA to campus administrators and others. This document answers frequently asked questions about FERPA and suggests important elements to consider in setting institutional policies. And while advocating compliance with FERPA, it also puts into perspective the critical importance of campus and public safety in today’s world.

National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) Notes (August 6, 2007) Vol. 5 No. 4

Updated: 03/14/18  adm