FERPA Guidelines

Dickinson State University student records fall into two general categories: educational records and directory information. In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), DSU keeps educational records confidential. University personnel who have or gather educational records that are in a personally identifiable form shall observe the following procedures.

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.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 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 

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.

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 desk
  • 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 is not generally considered sensitive or confidential:

  • Student name*
  • Hometown (city, state)
  • Campus email address**
  • Height, weight, and photos of athletic team members
  • Major field of study (all declared majors)
  • Minor field of study (all declared minors)
  • Class level
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status (withdrawn, half-time, full-time)
  • Names of previous institutions attended
  • Participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
  • Honors/awards received
  • Degree earned (all degrees earned)
  • Date degree earned (dates of all degrees earned)
  • Directory photos, photographs, and video recordings of student in public or non-classroom settings (photographs from classrooms or class-related activities are NOT directory information)

Under FERPA, students have the right to request directory information not be made public by contacting the Office of Academic Records. DSU will honor student requests to withhold directory information until the student makes the request in writing to lift the restriction.

Dickinson State receives many inquiries for directory information from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, prospective employers, other colleges and universities, graduate schools, licensing agencies, government agencies, news media, parents, friends, and relatives. The University has no responsibility to contact students for subsequent permission to release directory information after it is restricted.

* If a student provides a preferred name, the college or university tries to use it when communicating directly with the student. The preferred name is also used in class/grade rosters, academic requirement reports, email addresses, etc. Preferred name is a supported business practice, unless there is a documented business or legal reason to use a student’s legal name. When communicating with outside third parties, including parents, DSU generally uses a student’s legal name.

** Campus email addresses are only disclosed to requestors who agree to not use them for solicitation.

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 

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 the student record is relevant
  • Those who plan, conduct, or review research related to university educational programs
  • Those employed or contracted by DSU 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 FERPA/Student Information Release form on Campus Connection by completing these steps
  • ND Open Records Laws requires release of directory information that is not suppressed by the 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.

  • FERPA rights begin 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. 

 

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 required to perform job responsibilities and role with the university.
  • Data stored/transmitted electronically must be secure and only available to those entitled to it.
  • Be vigilant and report any FERPA violations.

NEVER…

  • Use SSN or student ID in posting grades or other information
  • Release non-directory student information without written consent of the 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