Access to Student Records (FERPA)
University of Alaska officials take student privacy seriously. Both state and federal laws protect student privacy. One of the most important is the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (known as FERPA) of 1974. The University of Alaska protects student privacy with an opt-out system.
FERPA has several important provisions. The first is that students (or their parents, if under 18 years old) have the right to inspect and review their educational records and to request a correction to any errors. The second is that the school may not disclose, without consent, information other than “directory information” to anyone outside the institution. Directory information generally includes such things as a student’s name, date and type of degrees earned, dates of attendance, vital statistics on student athletes, etc. For more details on the university’s directory information, go to http://www.alaska.edu/studentservices/ferpa/what_is_directory_info.pdf.
The third provision of FERPA allows a student to request to withhold directory information. If a student has made such a request, the college cannot release their information to anyone, other than school officials with a legitimate educational interest, without the student’s written permission. This third provision has recently been a topic of much debate. People value their privacy more than ever, and many universities, including the University of Alaska, are looking for ways to help protect student information.
Students who request that UA withhold their directory information, also known as a “confidentiality hold,” must realize the following:
- The student’s name will not be printed in the published university chancellor’s and dean’s lists or commencement program;
- Employers, insurance companies, etc. cannot obtain verification of the student’s attendance and/or degrees earned without the student’s expressed written permission;
- The student will only be able to discuss their UA records or accounts (including computer accounts) in person after presenting a valid government-issued or UA photo identification.
Students who have requested holds then call the Registrar’s office or business office for something related to their records, will not be able to receive help. Students who have requested a confidential hold may only receive help in person, with ID in hand, or in writing. This includes all information related to student records, financial aid and billing, as well as obtaining help via the phone by a Help Desk. Students who have requested confidential holds and then need a password reset or any special assistance with UAA e-mail, Blackboard, UAOnline or other accounts, must take care of that business in person. Potential employers will not be able to verify students’ educational records indicated on job applications and résumés. Family and friends will not be able to contact students using standard directory services.
Students do have the option to go into UAOnline and remove a confidential hold, then go back and add it again later. UAOnline has been modified to display a red text box upon login if a student has the confidentiality field set to “yes.”
The University has developed an online tutorial for students, faculty and staff who need to know about FERPA for their jobs, or for those who are just curious to learn more. For instructions on how to get to the tutorial, to update a confidential hold status in UAOnline or for any information on the University of Alaska FERPA policies, go to www.alaska.edu/studentservices/ferpa/.