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Division of Student Affairs

Office of the University Registrar

Confidentiality/FERPA

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.

Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:

  • sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record (this might include notes an instructor makes while providing career/professional guidance to a student);
  • medical treatment records that include but are not limited to records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists;
  • employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment;
  • records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for only that purpose, are revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records;
  • post-attendance records, i.e., information about a person that was obtained when the person was no longer a student (alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student are:

  • citizenship
  • disciplinary status
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • grade point average (GPA)
  • marital status
  • SSN/Sac State I.D.
  • grades/exam scores
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)

The university will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization permitting the parents' access. Exceptions are noted in the university's policy (located in the Office of the General Counsel and in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs) concerning the privacy of student education records and includes: access by "campus officials" who the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest;" access by campus officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll; access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

At Sacramento State these terms are defined below:

"Campus official" is any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, a student serving on an official university committee, or a person employed by or under contract to the university to perform a specific task. A "campus official" has a "legitimate educational interest" whenever he or she is performing a task that is specified in his or her position, description, or by a contract agreement, performing a task related to a student's education, performing a task related to the discipline of a student, providing a service or benefit relating to the student (such as health care, advising, counseling, job placement or financial aid.)

Students and former students have rights to inspect and review their education records within 45 days from making such a request. The right of inspection and review includes: the right to access, with an explanation and interpretation of the record; the right to a copy of the education record when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent the student from inspecting and reviewing the record. The institution may refuse to provide a copy of a student's education record provided such refusal does not limit access.

Limitations exist on students' rights to inspect and review their education records. For example, the institution is not required to permit students to inspect and review the following:

  • financial information submitted by parents;
  • education records containing information about more than one student (however, the institution must permit access to that part of the records which pertains only to the inquiring student);
  • confidential letters and recommendations placed in the student's file before 01/01/75;
  • confidential letters and statements of recommendation, placed in the records after 01/01/75, to which the student has waived his or her right to review and that are related to the student's admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors.

Students may request that their education records be amended if they believe such information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. Students must request in writing that the office that maintains those records amend them. Students should identify the part of the records they want corrected and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights.

All changes to enrollment (Add/Change or Drops) will require a new CCE Information Request Form.  Once this form is received, the Financial Aid Office will review and make adjustments as needed.  This form can be found under the Financial Aid Forms section of our website.

 
TYPE LOCATION CUSTODIAN
Academic Records Registrar's Service Center, 1st Floor, Lassen Hall University Registrar
Financial Aid Records Financial Aid, Lassen Hall 1006 Director
Financial Records Financial Services, Lassen Hall 1003 Director, University Bursar
Health Records Student Health Center Director
Student Conduct Records Student Affairs, Lassen Hall 3008 Judicial Officer

Directory Information is defined as that information contained in an education record of the student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.

The following is considered DIRECTORY INFORMATION and Sacramento State may release and make available to the public UNLESS notified by the student to withhold release of this information:

  • Student’s name
  • addresses
  • university e-mail address
  • telephone number
  • likenesses used in university publications including photographs
  • date of birth (month/day)
  • major field of study
  • class level
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status (part/full-time)
  • degrees earned
  • awards and honors (e.g. Dean’s Honor List) received
  • participation in University recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • most recent educational agency or institution attended by the student

All requests for Directory Information are to be referred to the Office of the University Registrar or the Office of University Counsel for review.

According to FERPA, a student can request that the institution not release any directory information about him/her. Institutions must comply with this request, once received, if the student is still enrolled.

At Sacramento State, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a "Request To Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information" form, available at the Registrar's Service Center, first floor, Lassen Hall. Students can restrict the release of all of their directory information by submitting the completed form in person to the Registrar's Service Center, first floor, Lassen Hall, and must be accompanied by a photo I.D.

Students who wish to restrict directory information should realize that their names will not appear in the commencement bulletin and other university publications. Also, employers, credit card companies, loan agencies, scholarship committees and the like will be denied any of the student's directory information and will be informed that we have no information available about the student's attendance at Sacramento State. Students who wish to have directory information released may do so by providing a written authorization to the Registrar's Service Center, first floor, Lassen Hall. 

Consistent with its obligations under FERPA, Sac State will annually notify students of the rights accorded them by FERPA in various campus publications and web sites.

All university faculty and staff, as well as any other agents of the university who request access to student information in the student information system, must complete the Information Security Program Training and submit a signed acknowledgement form. The Information Security Training typically occurs when a faculty or staff person is initially hired. Access to student information system will be denied until this training has been completed and the form submitted. The training program is intended to insure that anyone accessing student education records understands the obligations under FERPA for proper use and protection of student records. If you have questions or concerns please contact your supervisor or department chair.

Before beginning the tutorial, you should review all of the topics found on the FERPA homepage. The tutorial will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. To begin the tutorial, click here.

General questions may be directed to:

The Office of the General Counsel

The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

The Office of the University Registrar

Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the University Registrar

ferpahlp@csus.edu 2000 Lassen Hall, Sacramento, CA 95819.

If a parent or eligible student feels that the institution has not fully honored his/her privacy rights under FERPA, a written complaint may be filed with the Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920. The Family Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the education agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of FERPA. A timely complaint is defined as an allegation that is submitted within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.

Confidentiality/FERPA - Definitions

ACT:

Refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy act of 1974, as Amended , enacted as Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g)

AGENT:

A person or business formally authorized to act on another's behalf.

ATTENDANCE:

Includes but is not limited to (a) attendance - in person or by correspondence study (program) and (b) the period during which a person is working under a work-study (cooperative) program.

DATES OF ATTENDANCE:

The period of time during which a student attends or attended an institution. Examples of dates of attendance include an academic year, a spring semester, or a first term. The term does not include specific daily records or a student's attendance pattern at the institution.

DIRECTORY INFORMATION:

Directory Information is defined as that information contained in an education record of the student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The following is considered DIRECTORY INFORMATION and Sacramento State may release and make available to the public UNLESS notified by the student to withhold release of this information:

  • Student’s name
  • addresses
  • university e-mail address
  • telephone number
  • likenesses used in university publications including photographs
  • date of birth (month/day)
  • major field of study
  • class level
  • dates of attendance
  • enrollment status (part/full-time)
  • degrees earned
  • awards and honors (e.g. Dean’s Honor List) received
  • participation in University recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • most recent educational agency or institution attended by the student

All requests for Directory Information are to be referred to the Office of the University Registrar or the Office of University Counsel for review.

EDUCATION INSTITUTION (OR AGENCY):

Generally means (1) any public or private agency or institution (including governing boards which provide administrative control or direction of a university system) of post-secondary education that (2) receives funds from any federal program under the administrative responsibility of the Secretary of Education. The term refers to the institution as a whole, including all of its components (e.g., schools or departments in a university).

EDUCATIONAL RECORDS:

Those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution.

The term "education records" does not include the following:

records of institutional, supervisory, administrative, and certain educational personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a substitute who performs on a temporary basis (as defined in the institutional personnel policy) the duties of the individual who made the records. records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the education agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement. records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution which are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to individuals in their capacity as employees, and are not available for use for any other purpose. (Records of individuals in attendance at an institution who are employed as a result of their status as students are education records, e.g.; work-study, graduate assistants.) records relating to a student (see the definition of "eligible student") which are (1) created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity; (2) used solely in connection with the provision of treatment to the student; and (3) not disclosed to anyone other than individuals providing such treatment, so long as the records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice. (Appropriateness may be determined by the institution.) "Treatment" in this context does not include remedial educational activities or activities which are part of the program of instruction at the institution. records of an institution which contain only information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student at the institution (e.g., information gathered on the accomplishments of alumni).

"ELIGIBLE STUDENT":

Means a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education.

ENROLLED STUDENT:

For the purposes of this publication, this term refers to a student who has satisfied all of the institutional requirements for attendance at the institution. The Family Policy Compliance Office has stated that each institution may determine when a student is "in attendance" in accordance with its own enrollment procedures (Federal Register, July 6, 2000, p.41856). At Sac State a student is considered "enrolled" when the student has registered and attended their first class.

FAMILY POLICY COMPLIANCE OFFICE:

The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education (K-12, post-secondary).

"FINAL RESULTS" OF A DISPLINARY PROCEEDING:

A decision or determination, made by an honor court or council, committee, commission, or other entity authorized to resolve disciplinary matters within the institution. The disclosure of final results must include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution against the student.

"IN ATTENDANCE"

(or when is a student "in attendance"): See "enrolled student."

INSTITUTION OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION:

An institution that provides education to students beyond the secondary school level. "Secondary school level" means the educational level (not beyond grade 12) at which secondary education is provided.

LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT:

Any individual or other component of an institution, including commissioned police officers and noncommissioned security guards, officially authorized by the institution to enforce any local, state, or federal law and to maintain the physical security and safety of the institution. (Although the unit may perform other non-law enforcement functions, it does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit.)

LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT RECORDS:

Those records, files, documents, and other materials that are (1) created by a law enforcement unit, (2) created for a law enforcement purpose, and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit. Law enforcement records do not include: (1) records created by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose other than for the law enforcement unit; (2) records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit exclusively for non-law enforcement purposes, such as a disciplinary action or proceeding conducted by the institution.

LEGITIMATE EDUCATIONAL INTEREST:

The demonstrated "need to know" by those officials of an institution who act in the student's educational interest, including faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees, and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student record information. (Although the Act does not define "legitimate educational interest", it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining when their campus officials have a legitimate educational interest in a student's education records.

PARENT:

Includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.

PERSONNALLY IDENTIFIABLE:

Data or information which include (1) the name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members; (2) the student's address; (3) a personal identifier such as a social security number or student number; or (4) a list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student's identity easily traceable.

RECORDS:

Any information or data recorded in any medium (e.g., handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, any form of electronic data storage).

CAMPUS OFFICIALS:

Those members of an institution who act in the student's educational interest within the limitations of their "need to know." These may include faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student education record information. (Although the Act does not define "campus officials," it states that institutions must establish their own criteria , according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining them.)

SOLE POSSESSION RECORDS:

Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.

Any record that is made in conjunction with a student or other school official is not a sole possession record.

STUDENT:

Any individual for whom an education institution maintains education records. The term does not include an individual who has never attended the institution. An individual who is or has been enrolled in one component unit of an institution and who applies for admission to a second unit has no right to inspect the records accumulated by the second unit until enrolled therein.

STUDENT RIGHT-TO-KNOW ACT OF 1990:

Referred to as SRTK, the act requires colleges and universities to report graduation rates to current and prospective students.

SUBPOENA:

A command from a court to require the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony or evidence. There are two main types of subpoenas: "duces tecum" (requires the production of documents, papers, or other tangibles) and "ad testificandum" (requires person to testify in a particular court case).

U.S.C.:

United States Code. A compilation of all federal legislation organized into 50 titles. Revised every six years with supplementary volumes issued in intervening years. The legislation related to FERPA is found in 20 U.S.C. 1232g (see Appendix I).

We would like to express our appreciation and thanks to the Registrar’s Office at the University of Southern California for use of their web design, presentation of information and basic text for this Sac State FERPA website.

Last modified: January 15, 2009

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