FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance in postsecondary institutions, including students in cooperative and correspondence study programs, video conference, satellite, internet or other electronic forms.

FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for admission who are denied acceptance or to deceased students.

FERPA gives eligible students the right to:

  • inspect and review their education records maintained by UNC;
  • request that UNC corrects records which the student believes to be inaccurate or misleading. If UNC decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if UNC still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth the student’s view about the contested information;
  • have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their education records and
    file a complaint with the Department of Education.

Generally, schools must have written permission from a student in order to release any information from their education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Directory Information as identified by UNC;
  • Other schools to which the student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to the student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities pursuant to specific State law.

  • Annual Notification

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) afford eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. An eligible student under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution. These rights include:

    1. The right to inspect and review your education records within 45 days after the day the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) receives your request for access. You must submit to the Office of the Registrar a written request that identifies the record(s) you wish to inspect. The Office of the Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify you of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the Office of the Registrar, we will advise you of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
    2. The right to request amendment of your education records that you believe is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights under FERPA.
        • If you believe that your record contains inaccurate or misleading information, you may submit the Request to Amend or Remove Education Records form to the Office of the Registrar clearly identifying the part of your record that you want amended and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading.
        • If your request to amend your record is denied by the Office of the Registrar, we will notify you in writing of the decision and your right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. This will include instructions on submitting the Request for Formal Hearing to Amend or Remove Education Records form to the Office of the Registrar.
        • If you disagree with the Hearing Panel's decision, you have the right to place in your record a written statement commenting on the information in the record and/or stating your reasons for disagreeing with the decision. This explanation will become part of your education record as long as the record is maintained and whenever a copy of your record is sent to any party, the explanation will accompany it.
        • FERPA was intended to require only that schools conform to fair recordkeeping practices and not to override the accepted standards and procedures for making academic assessments, disciplinary rulings, or placement determinations. Thus, while FERPA affords you the right to seek to amend education records which contain inaccurate information, this right cannot be used to challenge a grade or an individual's opinion, or a substantive decision made by a school about you. Additionally, if FERPA's amendment procedures are not applicable to your request for amendment of education records, UNC is not required under FERPA to hold a hearing on the matter.
    3. The right to provide written consent before the University of Northern Colorado discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from your education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent under section §99.31 of the FERPA regulations. FERPA authorizes the disclosure of your education records without your prior consent under the following circumstances:
        • Legitimate Educational Interest -The school discloses education records without your prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. 
            • A school official is a person employed by the University of Northern Colorado in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the University of Northern Colorado who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks.
            • A school official has a legitimate educational interest in information contained in a student’s education records if the information is necessary for that official to perform a task within the scope of his/her responsibilities that relates to the student or to the management and administration of education at the University of Northern Colorado.  The information is to be used within the context of official University business and not for purposes extraneous to the official’s areas of responsibility or to the University.
            • Legitimate educational interests would include teaching, research, public service, and such directly supportive activities as academic advising, general counseling, therapeutic counseling, discipline, vocational counseling and job placement, financial assistance and advisement, medical services, safety, raising endowment in support of student scholarships, and academic programs and academic assistance activities.
        • Directory Information - FERPA directory information is information contained in in your education record that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Under current UNC policy, the following information is designated as directory information:
            • Student name
            • Student address and phone number (including local mailing and permanent addresses)
            • Email address
            • Date of birth
            • Dates of attendance
            • Full or part-time enrollment
            • Student classification
            • Major field of study
            • Degrees pursued or being pursued
            • Degree conferred and dates
            • Honors, awards and publications
            • Most recently attended educational institution
            • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities, past and present
            • Physical factors of athletes
      • To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of §99.34.  (§99.31(a)(2))
      • To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs.  Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs.  These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf.  (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
      • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.  (§99.31(a)(4))
      • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to:  (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.  (§99.31(a)(6))
      • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.  ((§99.31(a)(7))
      • To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.  (§99.31(a)(8))
      • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.  (§99.31(a)(9))
      • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to §99.36.  (§99.31(a)(10))
      • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39.  The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.  (§99.31(a)(13))
      • To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
      • To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))

    4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures    by the University of Northern Colorado to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation.  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

     Annual notification of students' rights under FERPA may also be found in the front of current catalogs for both undergraduate and graduate students.

    A paper copy of the FERPA Guidelines with more specific details about your rights, and any University policies related to FERPA are available for your review from the Office of the Registrar.

    More information may be found at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html.

    If you have a concern about the University's compliance with FERPA's requirements or need more information about student rights, please call the Office of the Registrar at 970-351-2231 or email registrar@unco.edu.

  • Definitions

    Education Records

    Those records that are:

    • directly related to a student and
    • maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution are considered education records.

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

    • Records of instructional, supervisory, administrative, and certain educational information that is in the sole possession of the maker thereof, and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual.
    • Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational 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 the individuals in their capacity as employees, and are not available for use for any other purpose. Records of individuals who are employed as a result of their status as students (for example, work study students) are education records.
    • Records related to students which are:
        • Created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional, acting in his/her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity.
        • Used solely in connection with the provision of treatment to the student.
        • Not disclosed to anyone other than individuals providing such treatment.

    Eligible student 


    A student age 18 or older or enrolled in a postsecondary institution at any age.


    In attendance

    At the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), a student is considered to be "in attendance" on the first day of the first term for which a student is registered.


    Directory Information 

    FERPA directory information is information contained in in your education record that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Under current UNC policy, the following information is designated as directory information:

    • Student name;
    • Student address and phone number (including local mailing and permanent addresses);
      Email address;
    • Date of birth;
    • Dates of attendance;
    • Full or part-time enrollment;
    • Student classification;
    • Major field of study;
    • Degrees pursued or being pursued;
    • Degree conferred and dates;
    • Honors, awards and publications;
    • Most recently attended educational institution;
    • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities, past and present;
    • Physical factors of athletes

    School Official

    A school official is a person employed by the University of Northern Colorado in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A school official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the University of Northern Colorado who performs an institutional service of function for which the school would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent or a student volunteering to assist another school official in performing his or her tasks.


    Legitimate Educational Interest

    A school official has a legitimate educational interest in information contained in a student’s education records if the information is necessary for that official to perform a task within the scope of his/her responsibilities that relates to the student or to the management and administration of education at the University of Northern Colorado.  The information is to be used within the context of official University business and not for purposes extraneous to the official’s areas of responsibility or to the University.

    Legitimate educational interests would include teaching, research, public service, and such directly supportive activities as academic advising, general counseling, therapeutic counseling, discipline, vocational counseling and job placement, financial assistance and advisement, medical services, safety, raising endowment in support of student scholarships, and academic programs and academic assistance activities.

  • Exceptions

    Under FERPA, UNC may disclose your records or identifiable information without your consent under the following circumstances. UNC's policy for releasing information under these circumstances is handled on a case-by-case basis.

    • To other school officials, including teachers, within UNC whom UNC has determined to have legitimate educational interests.  This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom UNC has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) - (a)(1)(i)(B)(2) are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
    • To officials of another school where you seek or intend to enroll, or where you are already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to your enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of §99.34.  (§99.31(a)(2)) 
    • To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs.  Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs.  These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf.  (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
    • In connection with financial aid for which you have applied or which you have received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.  (§99.31(a)(4))
      To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to:  (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.  (§99.31(a)(6))
    • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.  ((§99.31(a)(7))
    • To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.  (§99.31(a)(8))
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.  (§99.31(a)(9))
    • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to §99.36.  (§99.31(a)(10))
    • Information the school has designated as “directory information” under §99.37.  (§99.31(a)(11))
    • To the student
    • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39.  The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.  (§99.31(a)(13))
      To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
    • To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))

    Specific legislation may be found at the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

  • Non-Disclosure Request

    At any time, you may ask the University to not publicly disclose your directory information. Please contact the Office of the Registrar at 970-351-2231 for details and the request form.

    You should carefully consider the consequence of any decision to withhold directory information. Regardless of the effect upon a student, the University assumes no liability that may arise out of its compliance with a request that such information be withheld.

    If you choose to have your directory information withheld, you will be required to come to the Office of the Registrar and show valid identification in order to transact business. We will not be able to assist you over the phone or via a non-UNC email address.

  • Parents

    When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an "eligible student," and all rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student.

    Therefore, at the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect a student's education record and the right to inspect is limited solely to the student. Records may be released to the parent only under the following circumstances:

    • Through the written consent of the student;
    • In compliance with a subpoena;
    • By submission of evidence that the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax return (IRS Code of 1954, Section 152) or
    • Under the Alcohol and controlled substance exception or in connection with a health and safety emergency under the circumstances set forth in § 99.36 (if the student is under 21 years of age).
  • Student Workers

    As a student employee at the University of Northern Colorado, your job may allow you access to student records or other forms of student personally identifiable information (PII). This information includes, but is not limited to, transcripts, grades, class schedules, applications and personal information and is protected under the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This information may be in any format including written or electronic materials or personal conversations.

    As a student employee, you have the same responsibility of protecting student information as any faculty/staff would have. It is important that you understand FERPA and adhere to the regulations. You may begin by viewing the FERPA for Student Worker PowerPoint.

    You will also be required to complete the Student Worker - Statement of FERPA Understanding and this form will be kept on file in the office where you work.

    The key aspect of FERPA that is important for student employees to understand and remember is that FERPA prohibits the release of information from a student's education record to anyone other than the student without a student's written permission.

    There are two main exceptions to this rule:

    Legitimate Educational Interest - FERPA does allow the release of personally identifiable information from a student's education record to school officials with a legitimate educational interest

    • A school official has a legitimate educational interest in information contained in a student’s education records if the information is necessary for that official to perform a task within the scope of his/her responsibilities that relates to the student or to the management and administration of education at the University of Northern Colorado.  The information is to be used within the context of official University business and not for purposes extraneous to the official’s areas of responsibility or to the University.
    • Legitimate educational interests would include teaching, research, public service, and such directly supportive activities as academic advising, general counseling, therapeutic counseling, discipline, vocational counseling and job placement, financial assistance and advisement, medical services, safety, raising endowment in support of student scholarships, and academic programs and academic assistance activities.
    • Simply the fact that you are a university employee does not constitute legitimate educational interest. Your need to know must be related to your job responsibilities in support of the university's educational mission. In other words, curiosity is not a legitimate educational interest. Just because you have access and are able to view the record of another person, it does not mean that you have a legitimate educational interest in their grades, GPA, class schedule or any other FERPA protected information.

    Directory Information - FERPA does allow the University to disclose "directory information" without a student's permission unless the student has contacted the Office of the Registrar to request that their information remain confidential.  Directory information is information that is generally considered not to be harmful or a violation of privacy if disclosed. 

    At UNC, Directory information is identified as:

    • Student name
    • Student address and phone number (including local mailing and permanent addresses)
    • Email address
    • Date of birth
    • Dates of attendance
    • Full or part-time enrollment
    • Student classification
    • Major field of study
    • Degrees pursued or being pursued
    • Degree conferred and dates
    • Honors, awards and publications
    • Most recently attended educational institution
    • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities, past and present
    • Physical factors of athletes

    The best practice for a student employee is to never discuss information learned through a work assignment with anyone, or to disclose any information unless you have permission from your supervisor to do so.

    Disclosure of personally identifiable information is not only unprofessional and unethical, but it violates UNC’s policy and federal law.  Disclosure could result in termination of employment with the University, loss of federal funding for UNC and criminal and civil penalties.

    Several other laws, such as HIPAA, govern the release of information for campus offices such as the Student Health Center and University Counseling Services.  Be sure that you understand the requirements and standards for confidentiality for the office in which you work before you begin work.

    For more information on ways to keep UNC data protected, please visit:

    Cyber Security Basics

    Sensitive Information Handling

  • Written Consent

    Students may release their academic records to their parents, a prospective employer, insurance companies, etc., by providing written consent. Students may obtain a written consent form either online or in person at the Office of the Registrar, 3002 Carter Hall, Greeley, CO 80631.

    In lieu of the above form, a notice of written consent must include the following information:

    • It must specify the records to be released (i.e., transcripts)
    • State the purpose of the disclosure
    • Identify the party or class of parties to whom disclosure may be made, and
    • Be signed and dated by the student
    • Student signature must be notarized if not signed in the presence of a staff member of the Office of the Registrar