Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
Also known as the "Buckley Amendment," FERPA is a federal law enacted in 1974 which affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Specifically, it affords students the right to: 1. inspect and review their education records, 2. request the amendment of inaccurate or misleading records, 3. consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education record and 4. file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by UT to comply with this law. The University of Tampa strives to fully comply with this law by protecting the privacy of student records and judiciously evaluating requests for release of information from those records. FERPA authorizes the release of "Directory Information" without the student's prior consent under certain conditions which are set forth in the Act. The University of Tampa has defined its "Directory Information" in accordance with the law.
Definition of a student
The University defines a student as a person who is or has been in attendance. A student is considered to be “in attendance” on the first day of classes or the date in which the student takes occupancy in a University residence, whichever is earlier.
What are education records?
Education records are records that are: 1. directly related to a student and 2. maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
What is personally identifiable information?
Personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: the student's name; the name of the student's parent or other family member; the address of the student or student's family; a personal identifier, such as the student's social security number or student number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable; or other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable.
How is compliance monitored?
The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) monitors schools for compliance. Students have the right to file complaints with the FPCO alleging failure by UT to comply with the requirements of the Act. Failure to comply may result in a loss of federal funding for financial aid and educational grants and/or civil litigation.
What is "Directory Information?"
Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At UT it includes the student's name, address, telephone number(s), photograph, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees and awards received, honors (including dean's list), the most recent previous institution attended, past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, and weight and height of members of athletic teams.
Note: Directory information is information that the university may disclose, but it is not required to do so. It is university policy to refrain from actively disclosing addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth, however we routinely verify this information. The university does not disclose social security numbers, personal identification numbers, grades, grade point averages, class schedules, academic actions nor the number of credits enrolled in or earned unless the student has signed a consent form.
Can students control disclosure of "Directory Information?"
Yes, students are notified of their right to control the disclosure of "Directory Information" in the Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA which is published in the catalog. They are required to complete a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information and submit the form in person at the Registrar's Office with a photo ID by the end of the first week of the fall term. If a student elects to control disclosure, no information will be disclosed on the student, nor will verification of enrollment be given to any callers.
How can parents access their child's academic records?
Under FERPA, when a student reaches 18 years of age or enrolls at a post-secondary institution, the rights afforded to the parents of a student automatically transfer to the student. However, you still may have access to the academic record if:
• the information requested is directory information and the student has not elected for total non-disclosure.
• you can demonstrate that the student is a dependent, as defined by the IRS.
• the student has indicated your name in a signed FERPA release to parents form.
• the information is released in response to a lawful subpoena.
If your student has not recorded their release and you request access to an educational record, you can still make the request for access by demonstrating that the student was claimed as a dependent on your most recent tax return. Provide a copy of the first and last page of your most recent federal income tax return. In order for these documents to support a claim of dependency, the first page must list the student as your dependent and the last page must be signed and dated; you can omit other financial information. The consent form and tax return will be imaged as part of the student's permanent academic record. A new request must be submitted for each term that information is requested, and IRS documentation must be provided annually for the university to continue to recognize the student as your dependent.
What if I have Power of Attorney?
A notarized power of attorney must authorize access to academic records specifically or be a general power of attorney, which covers any and all documents. If all legal requirements are met, the individual listed on the power of attorney will be treated in the same manner as would the student. Unless there is a stated expiration date, the power of attorney does not expire.
To whose records does FERPA apply?
FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance.
To what records does FERPA apply?
FERPA applies to all educational records in whatever medium which are: 1. maintained by UT or by a party acting for UT and 2. directly related to a student.
Is prior consent always necessary before releasing information from a student's education record?
Prior consent is not necessary to release or confirm"Directory Information" from a student's education record unless the student has placed a non disclosure request on his/her records. However, all requests of this nature should be referred to the Registrar’s office staff.
How does FERPA apply to faculty and staff?
FERPA requires faculty and staff to act in a legally specified manner. (See FERPA for Faculty and Staff).
Who should I contact with questions?
For questions about how to designate FERPA permissions, please use the step-by-step instructions provided via the link at the top of this page that reads "help guide".
Michelle Pelaez, University Registrar
The Annual Notification of Rights under FERPA is published in the UT Catalog Appendix. A paper copy of the annual notification can be requested through the Registrar's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to: Registrar's Office, The University Of Tampa, Box N, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606.
Important Note: The above information is intended to give general information about FERPA and to acquaint faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue.