Privacy and Release of Student Education Records (FERPA)

What is FERPA?

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was enacted in 1974. It is a set of regulations that applies to those institutions, such as the University of Montana, that receive funding from the Department of Education.

FERPA was written specifically for students and guarantees them the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to amend education records, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from those education records.

Resources for Students

Notification Regarding Release of Student Directory Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. "Education records" are "those records, files documents, and other materials which 1) contain information directly related to a student; and 2) are maintained by an educational institution. (20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A); 34 CFR § 99.3). FERPA applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Generally speaking, FERPA allows the University to disclose education records or personally identifiable information from education records in the following circumstances: with the written consent of the student, if the disclosure meets one of the statutory exemptions, or if the disclosure is directory information and the student has not placed a hold on release of directory information.

The University defines the following information as public (directory) information:

  • Student's name
  • Street address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Major and minor field(s) of studies
  • Class
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Weight and height, if student is a member of an intercollegiate athletic team

FERPA allows the University to release a student's directory information to anyone unless the student informs the University Office of the Registrar that he or she does not wish directory information to be released.

NO to Release of Directory Information

If you do not wish to authorize the release of directory information and do not want your directory information to appear in the University Student Directory, you must inform the Office of the Registrar of this by completing a UM Confidentiality Request Form which can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office Website. You should allow at least three business days for processing.

You should be aware ...

You should be aware that restricting the release of your directory information has other consequences. For instance, a FERPA restriction makes it difficult or impossible for potential employers to verify your enrollment, or to verify the fact that you have earned a degree from the University. The University cannot notify your home town paper about awards and honors you receive (e.g., Dean's list). For this reason alone, many students choose to remove their FERPA restriction.

Change from NO to YES

At any time after restricting the release of your directory information, you may change your mind and choose to authorize the University to release directory information and for it to appear in the University Student Directory. You can grant such authorization at any time by going to the Registrar’s Office at 201 Lommasson with a valid photo identification.

Notification of Students' Rights Under FERPA

FERPA also affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.

To inspect and review his or her education records, a student should submit to the university official(s) or office(s) having custody of the particular record(s), a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.

  1. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA. (This process cannot be used to challenge a grade.)

A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write the appropriate University dean or director responsible for custody of the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student's right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

  1. The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records, except that the University will disclose the following information without a student’s consent:
  1. Disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including, but not limited to University Police Department personnel, and Curry Health staff); a contractor, consultant, or other outside service provider retained to provide various institutional services and functions under contract or by statute instead of using University employees or officials (including, but not limited to an attorney, auditor, collection agent, information systems specialist, teaching affiliate, and clinical mentor); a person serving on the Board of Regents, staff in the Office of the Commission of Higher Education, the Institutional Review Board, and any other University board, committee or council; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University.

  1. Compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order.
  2. Requests in connection with a student’s application for financial aid.
  3. Information submitted to accrediting organizations.
  4. Requests by federal and state authorities and authorized third parties designated by federal and state authorities to evaluate a federal or state supported education program; to researchers performing certain types of studies; in connection with statewide longitudinal data systems studies and tracking.
  5. In the case of emergencies, the University may release information 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.
  6. To the extent otherwise permitted by law, the results of a disciplinary proceeding or investigation conducted by the University to an alleged victim of a crime.
  1. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

Additional Resources

For more information on FERPA, please see the following links:

  1. Family Policy Compliance Office 
  2. FERPA 20 USC 1232(g) 
  3. 34 CFR Part 99
  4. Montana Code Annotated