FERPA Best Practices for Faculty and Staff


Family Policy Compliance Office

Kent State Policy

Questions and Answers


Chris DorstenUniversity Registrarcdorsten@kent.edu 
Lynette JohnsonSenior Associate University Registrarljohnson@kent.edu

What is FERPA?

FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.

With FlashFAST, we now have more access to restricted student information than ever before. The consequences of how we handle or mishandle student educational record information are significant. The way we use each student education record information is governed by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

FERPA is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 

Additional Information

The Essence of FERPA

  • College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records
  • School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their records without written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the act.

What is an Education Record?

An Education Record is:

  • Those records, files, documents and other materials which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by a college, school, department, office or other university organization, subdivision or by a person acting for the university or any of its subdivisions.
  • These records include files, documents, and materials in whatever medium (handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm, microfiche or any form of electronic data storage) which contain information directly related to students and from which students can be personally (individually) identified.
  • The official academic record is composed of documents and computer files maintained by the office of the university registrar. The registrar is the official custodian of these records and the registrar, or designee, is the only one authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
  • Academic advising records are the materials maintained in the college and academic departmental office for use only in advising and/or preparing the recommendations for state certification. These are not to be confused with the aforementioned official academic record.
  • Discipline records including preliminary notification, proceedings, results and action taken as a result of disciplinary committee hearings, are maintained in the office of the dean for student affairs. The provost or designee is the official custodian of these records and the vice president and dean for enrollment management and student affairs, or designee, is the only one who is authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
  • Student financial aid records including application, parents' confidential statement, need analysis form, promissory note, employment and other related information are maintained in the office of student financial aid. The director of student financial aid is the official custodian of these records and the director, or designee, is the only one who authorized to speak for the university regarding them.
  • The career planning and placement center records including applications, resumes, letters of reference, employment records of work study students, and related information are maintained in the office of career planning and placement center. The director of the center is the official custodian of these records and the director, or designee, is the only one who is authorized to speak for the university regarding them.

An Education Record is not:

  • Sole possession notes made by one person as an individual observation or recollection, kept in the possession of the maker, and only shared with a temporary substitute.
    • This term has always been narrowly defined.
    • Notes taken in conjunction with any other person are not sole possession notes (counselor's notes, interview notes).
    • Sharing these notes with another person, or placing them in an area where they can be viewed by others makes them "Education Records" and subject to FERPA.
    • Best advice: If you don't want it reviewed, don't write it down!
  • Police records which are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes
  • Records maintained solely in connection with a person's employment within the university unless the employment records are as a result of their status as a student  NOTE: Records of individuals who are employed as a result of their student enrollment status (such as, work study, graduate assistants, etc.) are education records.
  • Health-related records. Records which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional capacity, or assisting in that capacity and which are created, maintained or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment, provided, however, that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice.
  • Alumni records

What is "personally identifiable" information?

Personally Identifiable means data or information which includes:

  • The name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members
  • A personal identifier such as a social security number or student number
  • NOTE: It is illegal to post grades publicly by student ID or Social Security Number without obtaining the student's written permission.
  • A list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student's identity easily traceable.

Who are "school officials"?

A "School Official" can be a person:

  • Employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff);
  • Student workers can be considered "school officials" and be granted access to personally identifiable student information if their job responsibilities give them a legitimate educational interest (need to know);
  • Elected to the Board of Trustees;
  • A company employed by or under contract to the college to perform a special task such as the attorney, auditor, collection agency;
  • 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.

What is a "legitimate educational interest"?

A legitimate educational interest commonly requires that in order to view a student's record, a "school official" must be performing a duty or service related to a professional responsibility outlined in his or her contract.

A legitimate educational interest is the demonstrated need to know by those officials of an institution who act in the student's educational interest, including faculty; administration; clerical, professional or student employees; and other persons who manage student record information.

  • NOTE: School officials should be reminded that access to student record information is governed by the legitimate education interest under FERPA. As such, school officials should not view or access student record information unless specifically required by their job responsibilities.

Under what conditions is disclosure permitted?

Directory Information is that part of the education record which does not contain personally identifiable information and may be disclosed without the student's permission.

Directory Information includes:

  • Student's name
  • Address (local, permanent, kent.edu email)
  • Class standing (first-year, sophomore, graduate, etc.)
  • Enrollment Status (full-time, part-time, not enrolled)
  • Field of Study (including college of enrollment, major, and campus)
  • Date(s) of Attendance
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Degrees, institutional honors and awards received at KSU

If the student has restricted the disclosure of directory information, the word "Confidential will display next to the student's name on various pages in FlashFAST, including class rosters and grade rosters.


  • Keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching and advising responsibilities. Private notes (sole possession) intended only for the faculty member's use are not part of the education record. 
  • Student scores and grades, if associated with the name or ID, must not be displayed publicly. If lists of grades or scores are to be displayed, use a code known only to the student and you. Always post the list in random order to prevent possible identification. 
  • NOTE: Papers, exam books, etc should not be left in publicly accessible places.
  • Student record information that you receive from FlashFAST is not to be shared with other faculty or staff, unless their official responsibilities identify their legitimate educational interest in that information for that student. Always be mindful that a student may have restricted disclosure of that information. 
  • Refer requests for information from the educational record to the Financial, Billing and Enrollment Center (FBE Center).


There are some cases that allow the disclosure of education records without the student's permission such as:

  • Lawfully issued subpoenas 
  • Duly authorized federal and state representatives for the purposes of performing an audit, evaluation or enforcement of federal and state-supported programs
  • Accreditation purposes


Refer any questions to the Financial, Billing and Enrollment Center.

Contact the FBE Center