The University of Alabama at Birmingham

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act):
Understanding the Privacy of Student Records

What is FERPA?
FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
It is a federal law governing the privacy and handling of educational records and giving specific rights to students. You can read more about FERPA at the Family Policy Compliance Office.

Who is covered by FERPA?
FERPA covers students who are currently enrolled, or who were formerly enrolled, regardless of their age or status with regard to parental dependency.

FERPA does not cover students who applied to a school but did not attend, and deceased students.

What are "Educational Records"?
Educational records are records that are maintained by the University as part of the educational process in any form (e.g. handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, electronic data storage).
They do not include alumni records, records made by the campus police, or records made for employment, medical or counseling purposes.

Private notes (kept in the sole possession of the maker, not made with a student or other person present, used only as a personal memory aid, and not accessible to anyone other than the creator of the record) held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel, are also excluded.

Who might have access to student information?

  • The student, and any third party with written permission from the student
  • School officials (mainly administrative, supervisory, academic or research, and support staff, as defined by UAB) who have "legitimate educational interest" (UAB officials acting in the student's educational interest)
  • Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code
  • A person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as UAB makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student first

What kind of information might be disclosed?
FERPA uses the term "Directory Information" to refer to information which may be released without specific written permission from the student, except in certain cases specified by the regulations. Most Directory Information is data that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, including information such as name, address, major field of study, etc.

The UAB Student Records Policy defines the following items as Directory Information:

  • Name
  • Address (local and permanent)
  • Telephone number
  • University e-mail address (
  • CampusCard photo
  • Date of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Dates of attendance (enrollment verification)
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Institution most recently previously attended

Currently enrolled students may request that directory information is not released by completing the appropriate form and returning it to the Registrar's Office.

UAB considers requests from third parties not listed as an exception within the UAB Student Records Policy on a case-by-case basis. UAB retains the right to refuse any third-party request for student directory information in its sole discretion. Such requests are reviewed based upon the purpose of the request and whether that purpose is consistent with UAB's educational mission and in the interests of both students and the institution.

What is considered "Non-Directory Information"?
Non-directory information is any educational record not explicitly classified as directory information.

Examples of non-directory information include:

  • Class schedule
  • Religious affiliation
  • Citizenship/nationality
  • Disciplinary status
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • Marital status
  • Social security number/student ID
  • Grades/exam scores
  • Test scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, final exams, etc.)

This private information will not be released to anyone (including parents) without written consent from the student except under strictly defined conditions.

What are some conditions under which educational records may be released?
UAB is under no obligation to release records at any time, unless required by law. Records may, however, be released at the discretion of UAB under the following circumstances:

  • In the event of a health or safety emergency, student information may be released to the appropriate authorities as required to protect the safety of students.
  • Certain federal and state educational authorities may obtain educational records.
  • Parents or guardians who can demonstrate by income tax returns that students are their dependents may be eligible to view records.
  • The University may release student records in response to court orders or subpoenas.
  • Military recruiters may request student information under the Solomon Amendment of 1996 which permits Department of Defense representatives to access school campuses and obtain student information for military recruiting purposes.

How can I find out more?
If you are a UAB student, parent of a student at UAB, or faculty/staff working at UAB, follow the links provided to find more specific information related to your needs.

Who should I contact with questions or concerns?
Email with any questions, concerns or comments. Please do not include any confidential information such as SSN or student number in the email.

Last updated Sept 30, 2011

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