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: