Dickinson State University student records maintained by the University fall into two general categories: directory information and educational records.  As custodian of student records in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the University assumes the trust and obligation to ensure the full protection of student records which includes maintaining the confidentiality of educational records. University personnel who have or accumulate educational records that are in a personally identifiable form shall comply with the administrative procedures that follow.

FERPA confidentiality regulations do not apply between two schools when students choose to become collaborative students. The colleges and universities involved may exchange academic information without written permission from the collaborative students. 

What is FERPA?

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) or ‘Buckley Amendment’

  • Federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records
  • Applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive funds by the Secretary of Education
  • Provides guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student education records
  • Students are the “owners” of their education records, and the institution is the “custodian” of the records 

Student Rights

Students have the right to:

  • Inspect and review everything in their records except:
    • Information about other students
    • Financial records of parents
    • Confidential letters of recommendation if they waived their right of access
      • Records cannot be destroyed when a request to view them has been made
      • Institution has 45 days to comply with request
    • Seek amendment to records they believe are incorrect
    • Consent to disclose academic records
    • File a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office:

U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

  • Institutions must annually notify students of their rights under FERPA 

Types of Student Information

 Education Records - Any record maintained by the institution related to a student, including:

  • Personal information (name, ID, etc.)
  • Enrollment records
  • Grades
  • Class Schedules and Rosters
  • Student exams or papers
  • Student financial records
  • Student employment information 

Storage Media -may include the following:

  • Electronic document or email
  • Computer printout
  • Class list on a desktop
  • Notes taken during an advising session
  • Database
  • Documents and materials that are handwritten, taped, saved on disks, film, etc. 

Exceptions to Education Record Definitions:

  • Records in the “sole possession of the maker”
  • Law enforcement records created for a legal purpose
  • Employment records, not based on student status
  • Medical/psychological treatment records — protected under HIPAA 

Directory Information - Information that are not generally considered sensitive or confidential:

  • name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address (all on record)
  • weight and height of athletes
  • date and place of birth
  • major and minor fields of study
  • class level
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status
  • names of previous institutions attended
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • honors and awards received
  • degrees earned
  • dates of degrees earned
  • photographic, video or electronic images of students taken and maintained by the institution 

Non-directory Information - Confidential data that may not be released without a student’s written consent:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • SSN
  • Student ID number
  • Grades
  • GPA
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Religion 

Education Records Access

Who May Access Education Records?

  • Student
  • Third party authorized in writing by the student
  • School officials with a legitimate educational interest;  school officials include employees of the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office providing representation to Dickinson State University 
  • Parents of dependent students (most recent federal tax return required)
  • A person in response to a court-ordered subpoena
  • Institution where student seeks to enroll or is enrolled
  • Education Departments, state/local officials for legislative requests
  • Accrediting agencies
  • Health/safety emergency personnel
  • Those representing the University’s legal interests in matters where student record is relevant
  • Those who plan, conduct or review research related to University educational programs
  • Those employed or contracted by institution to perform their designated job functions 

Right to Consent to Disclosure

  • A student has the right to control to whom his/her education record is released
  • Students wishing to disclose information to specific persons shall complete the Student Information Release Form available on Academic Records web page
  • ND Open Records Laws requires release of directory information that is not suppressed by student 

Opportunity to Suppress Directory Information

  • Students are given opportunity to suppress directory information from public release. This request shall be made in writing at the Office of Academic Records   
  • Faculty and staff must respect a student’s “No Release” on his or her record which is coded in Campus Connection 

When do FERPA rights begin and end?

  • When students become 18 years of age or enroll in a higher education institution at any age; “enrollment” is considered the point of registration.
  • FERPA rights do not apply to alumni activities.
  • FERPA rights end at death, unless otherwise specified by state law. 

Guidelines for all Employees

Federal regulations allow electronic signatures; signed releases are still required for most transactions

  • All employees are responsible for protecting the confidentiality of student education records
  • “Need to Know”- Access to student data is to perform job responsibilities and role with University
  • Data stored/transmitted electronically must be secure and only available to those entitled to it
  • Be vigilant and report any FERPA violations

Important Reminders

NEVER…

  • Use SSN or student ID in posting grades or other information
  • Release non-directory student information without written consent of student
  • Release class schedule to locate a student
  • Release directory information if student has directory information suppressed
  • Leave sensitive information on desk/desktop when away from office
  • Discard documents with sensitive information without proper destruction and disposal
  • Leave graded papers in a stack for student pick up
  • Circulate printed lists with student IDs, SSNs or grades for attendance, verification or distribution
  • Discuss student progress with anyone other than the student without consent on file with the Office of Academic Records
  • Access student records for personal reasons or reasons not related to job responsibilities
  • Release lists with sensitive student information to third parties outside your department