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FERPA for Students

What are FERPA rights?
Students have four primary rights under FERPA. They have the right to:
•    Inspect and review their education records,
•    Limit the disclosure of information from their education record,
•    Seek to amend their education records, under certain circumstances, and,
•    File a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office.   

When do FERPA rights begin?
At UC Santa Barbara, a student's FERPA rights begin when the student submits a SIR (Statement of Intent to Register).

What are students’ rights under FERPA?
FERPA requires educational institutions to provide annual notification of students' rights under FERPA and their institutional policy regarding privacy of education records. Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, UC Santa Barbara’s annual notification to students is available here.

What are education records?
An education record is any record directly related to a student that is maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
Examples of an education record include, but are not limited to:
•    Biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, race, and ethnicity
•    Grades, test scores, evaluations, courses taken, academic  activities, and official communications regarding your status
•    Coursework including papers and exams, class schedules, as well as emails and written communications that are part of the academic process
•    Disciplinary records
•    Financial aid and financial aid records
•    Club or organization affiliations

Education records do not include:
•    Sole possession records that are used only as memory aids and not shared with others
•    Law enforcement unit records
•    Employment records, unless the employment is dependent on the employee’s status as a student (such as graduate assistants)
•    Medical records
•    Records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at that agency or institution

Can students withhold the release of information?

According to FERPA, a student can request, while still enrolled, that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request. At UC Santa Barbara, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information must complete a Request To Restrict/Release Student Record Data form and submit it to the Office of the Registrar.
Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that this action could have negative consequences. The names of students who have restricted their directory information will not appear in the commencement bulletin or other University publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees, etc. will be denied access to any information and will be told: "I'm sorry, but we have no information available about this person."

What is Directory Information?
FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent. Directory information is the information available about a student that is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. While FERPA and UC policy protect the privacy of educational records, directory information is not treated as confidential and may be released without prior consent unless the student has submitted a request to restrict the release.

UC Santa Barbara has designated the following information as directory information:
•    Student’s name
•    Email Address
•    Telephone number (local)
•    Major field of study
•    Class level
•    Date of birth (month and day only)
•    Dates of attendance
•    Last school attended
•    Number of course units in which enrolled
•    Degrees and honors awarded
•    Participation in officially recognized organizations
•    Name, weight, and height of participants on intercollegiate athletic teams

All other information in a student record that is not listed as UCSB Directory Information is considered confidential information and may not be released without the student’s prior written consent.

What can be disclosed without a student’s consent?
In certain instances, the law does not require the University to obtain student consent before disclosing information from an academic record. The most common examples of disclosure that do not require your consent include:
•    Disclosures to school officials with a legitimate educational interest
•    Disclosures to other institutions where student is seeking to enroll
•    Disclosures in connection with the receipt of financial aid (validating eligibility)
•    Disclosures to UC Office of the President (UCOP) or to state/local officials in conjunction with legislative requirements
•    Disclosures to organizations under University contract, or to accrediting organizations
•    Disclosures to parents of dependent students who have had drug and alcohol violations
•    Disclosures in compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena or court order
•    Disclosures for a health/safety emergency
•    Disclosures of information from disciplinary proceedings to the alleged victims of violent crimes or sexual offenses
•    Disclosures of name, sanction and outcome of disciplinary proceedings (public information), when a student has been found in violation of a crime of violence

Parent's access to a student's records
At the post-secondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At UC Santa Barbara, records may be released to parents only if they have a written letter from the student allowing the release of information or in compliance with a subpoena or court order.

Crisis situations/Emergencies

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

Take the FERPA Quiz!

Who to contact with questions/concerns
Questions or comments may be directed to the Office of the Registrar, 1101 SAASB, Registration@sa.ucsb.edu.

Filing a Complaint
Violations of the privacy rights accorded by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, portions of the State of California Education Code, and the Policies Applying to the Disclosure of Information from Student Records, may be grieved under UCSB’s Student Grievance Policy.

Students who feel that the institution has not fully honored their privacy rights under FERPA may submit a complaint to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at (805) 893-3651 or VCSAOffice@sa.ucsb.edu. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs investigates each timely complaint to determine if the institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA.

Please note: These pages have been developed by the Office of the Registrar to provide general information about the law and procedures related to accessing confidential student information and to provide guidance on commonly asked questions or situations faced by faculty, staff, students and parents. These pages are for information purposes only; this information is not university policy nor is it intended as legal advice.

Additional Information
FERPA for Parents
FERPA for Faculty
FERPA for Staff
FERPA Training