Staff FERPA FAQs

What information about students may I release to faculty members and other University staff members? Items defined as directory information (name, local phone number, email address, dates of attendance, enrollment status (less than half-time, half-time, or full-time), degrees and certificates earned, date of degrees and certificates, and majors) may be released without a student's written permission, provided that the student has not chosen to restrict his or her directory information. All other personally identifiable information in a student's educational record is confidential and may be disclosed to appropriate University administrators, faculty members, staff members, appropriate administrators or staff members of Grand Valley State University or contractors acting on behalf of the University, who require such access in order to perform their legitimate educational and business duties, when such records are needed in furtherance of the educational or business purposes of the student or University.

What are education records? Handwriting, print, computer, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche or email – of an institution that contain information directly related to the student and are maintained by an agency or institution or party acting on its behalf.

Education records do not include:
• Private notes in your possession that are not accessible or revealed to any other persons and are not stored in the student's record • Medical records • Employment records when employment is not contingent on being a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual's employment • Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit used only for that purpose, is revealed only to law enforcement agencies of the same jurisdiction, and the enforcement unit does not have access to education records • Information obtained when a person is no longer a student (i.e., alumni records) and does not relate to the person as a student.

What information about students may I release to parents? You may disclose directory information to a parent (as you may to any third party) if the student has not restricted his or her directory information. If the student has restricted all of his or her directory information, you should respond to any inquiries by saying "I have no information to provide about that individual." Confidential information may only be released to parents with the express, written permission of the student.

Do I have to release information from a student's educational record? FERPA regulations state that you MAY release directory information about a student, but FERPA does not require or compel you to do so.

Do I have to keep a record of the release of information from a student's educational record? A record of each request for access and each disclosure must be kept, unless the request was made by or the disclosure was made to one of the following: The student; a school official who has legitimate educational interest; a party with written consent from the student; a party seeking directory information only. These records must be kept with the educational records of the student as long as the educational records are maintained by the University. Click here for a form to be completed by a student requesting a letter of recommendation from a staff or faculty member.

Whom should I contact with questions or concerns? Direct general questions to the Registrar’s Office or University Counsel.

Click here for a handout of Faculty and Staff responsibilities under FERPA.