Privacy and Release of Student Education Records (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, and Montana law, set forth requirements designed to protect the privacy of student educational records. These laws govern access to records maintained by The Montana University System (MUS) and the release of information from those records. A notice to students that explains the rights of students with respect to records maintained  by The University of Montana (UM)  is provided yearly via the UM Catalog, as well at the beginning of each semester via students’ official campus email addresses It also outlines UM’s procedures adopted to comply with these legal requirements . Copies of these laws, including the implementing , Federal Regulations pursuant to FERPA, and this notice are available for persons to examine in the Registrar’s Office, Emma Lommasson Center, Room 201, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812. 

*See 3 January 2012 special notice from the U.S. Department of Education at the bottom of this page.

Annual Notification of Student Privacy Rights


I Education Record

  1. The meaning of "education record" is, with certain exemptions as listed below, those records, files, documents, and other materials which contain information directly related to a student, and are maintained by any UM employee or agent. The following categories of information are exempted and are not considered to be "education records:"
    1. Records made by UM personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other person.
    2. Records maintained by the Office of Public Safety for law enforcement purposes.
    3. Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment.
    4. Records only related to a former student (alumni records). Records of that individual while a student continue to be considered education records.
  2. All records pertaining to students which are maintained by UM offices are official UM records, and as such, remain UM property.
  3. The UM Registrar’s Office  maintains a record of requests and disclosures of student record information except when the request is from the student whose records are requested, a UM official with a legitimate educational interest, someone requesting directory information, or related to a request from a third party with prior student consent to release the requested information. Students have the right to review this record of requests and disclosures of student record information.

Policy Details

I  Right to Inspect and Review

Students have the right to inspect and review all of their education records, except the following:

1. Financial records of parents.

2. Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in education records prior to January 1, 1975.

3. Confidential letters and statements of recommendations for admission, employment, or honorary recognition placed in education records after January 1, 1975, for which students have waived their right of access.

II  Waiver of Rights of Access

Students may waive their right of access to confidential letters and statements of recommendation. Even if a student

signs a waiver, upon request, the names of all persons making confidential recommendations will be made available to the student..UM employees or agents may not require a student to waive right of access for receipt of UM benefits or services.

III  Procedures for Inspection and Review

A. Requests to review records must be made separately, in writing, to each office maintaining records. That office has 45 days to respond to requests to review and inspect. However, arrangements to grant such requests will be made as  expeditiously as possible.

B. Information contained in education records will be fully explained and interpreted to students by university personnel assigned to, and designated by, the appropriate office.

C. Students have the right to review only their own records. When a record contains information about more than one student, disclosure cannot include information regarding any other student.

IV  Right to Challenge Information in Records

A. Students have a right to challenge the content of their education records if they consider the information contained therein to be inaccurate, misleading, or inappropriate.

B. This process includes an opportunity for amendment of the records or insertion of written explanations by the student into such records.

C. The right to challenge does not apply to grades unless the grade assigned was inaccurately recorded, under which condition the record will be corrected.

V Procedures for Hearing to Challenge Records

A. Students challenging information in their records must submit, in writing, a request for a hearing to the appropriate office maintaining the record, listing the specific information in question and the reasons for the challenge.

B. Hearings will be conducted by a university official with no interest in the outcome of the hearing.

C. Students shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the reasons for the challenge, as referenced in Section IV above.

D. The hearing officer will render a decision, in writing, noting the reason and summarizing all evidence presented within a reasonable period of time after the challenge is filed.

E. Should the hearing decision favor the student, the record will be amended accordingly. Should the request be denied, an appeal may be made, in writing, and submitted to the UM Registrar within 10 days of the student's notification of the decision of the hearing officer. The appeal shall be heard by an Appeals Board of three disinterested senior university officials and a decision rendered, in writing, within a reasonable period of time.

F. Should the appeal decision favor the student, the record shall be amended accordingly. Should the request be denied, the student may choose to place a statement with the record commenting on the accuracy of the information in the record and/or setting forth any basis for inaccuracy. When disclosed to an authorized party, the record will always include the student's statement and notice of the Board's decision, as long as the student's record is maintained by UM.

VI Consent for Release Required

Consent must be obtained from a student for the release of information from education records, specifying what is to be released, the reasons for release, and to whom, with a copy of the record sent to the student if he or she desires.

VII  Release Without Consent

A. The requirement for consent does not apply to the following:

1. Requests from UM faculty, staff and agents who have a legitimate education interest on a "need to know" basis, including UM student employees , if necessary to conduct official business as authorized by the Registrar. Legitimate educational interest includes performing a task related to the regular duties of the employee or agent, the student's education, the discipline of a student, a service or benefit for the student, or maintaining safety and security of the campus.

2. Requests in compliance with a lawful subpoena or judicial order.

3. Requests in connection with a student's application for or receipt of financial aid.

4. Requests by state authorities and agencies specifically exempted from the prior consent requirements to the extent permitted by law --organizations conducting studies on behalf of UM, if such studies do not permit the personal identification of students to any persons other than to representatives of such organizations and if the personal identification data is destroyed when no longer needed. *See 3 January 2012 special notice from the U.S. Department of Education at the bottom of this page.

5. Information submitted to accrediting organizations.

6. In the case of emergencies, UM may release information from education records to appropriate persons in connection with an emergency, if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons.

7. To authorized federal officials who have need to audit and evaluate federally-supported programs. *See 3 January 2012 special notice from the U.S. Department of Education at the bottom of this page.

8. To the extent otherwise permitted by law, the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by UM against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence to the alleged victim of that crime.

9. Requests for directory information (see item VIII).

B. UM reserves the right to verify the accuracy of any information contained in what purports to be an official university document (e.g. a transcript or diploma) or is provided to a third party. In addition, degrees (any honors, majors, minors and specializations) are treated as directory information  as noted in VIII below, since they are conferred in a public ceremony.

VIII  Directory Information

A. UM has designated the following information about students as public (directory) information, which may be released to the public subject to VIII B below:

  1. Student name
  2. Addresses (including campus e-mail address)
  3. Telephone number
  4. Major field of study
  5. Dates of attendance
  6. Full-Time/Part-Time Status
  7. Date of graduation and degree(s) received
  8. School or College
  9. Major(s)
  10. Class
  11. Academic awards or honors
  12. Student photograph and video images
  13. Electronic Personal Identifier (e.g. NETID)
  14. Any other UM student records information students have publicly disclosed about themselves regarding their University of Montana educational activities.

B. Students have the right to have the above directory information withheld from the public if they so desire. Each student who wants all directory information to be withheld (including items to be published in the Student Directory) shall so indicate by completing a UM Confidentiality Request Form which can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office website. At least three days should be allowed for processing.

C. UM receives many inquiries for directory information from a variety of sources, including friends, parents, relatives, prospective employers, other institutions of higher education, honor societies, licensing agencies, government agencies, and the news media. Each student is advised to carefully consider the consequences of a decision to withhold directory information. UM, in all good faith, will not release directory information requested to be withheld, and any requests from persons or organizations outside UM will be refused unless the student provides written consent for the release.

D. UM publishes certain student directory information on the web via the UM Online Directory. This public information contains name, email address, and phone number., A student must notify the Registrar’s Office pursuant to VIII B above to keep directory information from being made public.

IX  Complaints, Concerns or Suggestions

Students who believe that the institution has not fully honored their privacy rights under FERPA may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202-4605. The Family Policy Compliance Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational 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.


I  Type, Location, and Custodian of Student Records

UM does not maintain education records in one central office. Education records are maintained in the respective colleges and schools (including placement offices as applicable), the Graduate School, and the Registrar’s Office. Other education records are maintained in the Enrollment Services Office (Admissions) (for newly enrolled students until the sixth week of attendance -- applicants are excluded), Office of The Vice-President for Student Affairs (disciplinary records), Financial Aid Office (financial and related information, student employment), Athletic Department (intercollegiate sports), International Students Office, Office of the Provost/Vice-President for Academic Affairs (academic misconduct) and other offices. Questions regarding individual student records may be addressed to either the UM Registrar or the appropriate office. . .


U. S. Department of Education, 1-800-872-5327

U.S. Department of Education FERPA web page

Montana Code Annotated (MCA) Title 20, Chapter 25, Part 5.

*FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and Use

As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.