Chapter 12: University Records, Privacy, and Access to InformationSave chapter as a PDF
- 12.A General Principles
- 12.B Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
- 12.C Personnel Records
- 12.D Student Records
- 12.E Faculty Handling of Student Records/References
- 12.F Faculty Record Keeping
- 12.G Electronic Privacy
12.D Student RecordsSave section as a PDF
Except for certain public information, student records are regarded as confidential and are maintained by the University primarily to benefit students in their educational and professional advancement. Access to student records is governed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 USC 1232g, and the regulations under that statute. As required by FERPA, the University has adopted a policy on Student Rights and Student Records.
FERPA applies to records that relate to any current or former student. A “student” is defined as anyone who is or has been in attendance at the University. FERPA does not apply to records containing information gathered after a student has graduated or otherwise left the University. As a general rule, it also does not cover individuals who have applied but were not admitted or who were admitted but did not enroll.
A “record” means any information recorded in any way, including handwritten, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, photographs, microfilm, or microfiche. There are a number of records relating to students that are not subject to FERPA including records that relate to a student as an employee; records maintained by the Department of Public Safety for law enforcement purposes; medical, psychiatric, and psychological records; and notes prepared by an administrator or faculty member that are used only by that person and are not shared with anyone else.
Generally, FERPA and University policy prohibit disclosing most information contained in student records about a student without his or her written permission. This applies to anyone outside the University, including a student’s parents, or to University employees unless the employee demonstrates a legitimate educational interest consistent with his or her official function for the University and consistent with usual professional and legal practices. FERPA sets forth limited circumstances under which information in a student’s records can be released without the student’s prior written permission. Requests for information from a student record from anyone other than the student or a University employee who has a legitimate educational interest should be directed to the Office of the Registrar. Requests for information from a student record from a University employee should be directed to the office that maintains the student record in question. In such cases, the employee must demonstrate a legitimate educational interest consistent with his or her official function for the University and consistent with usual professional and legal practices. FERPA gives students the right to inspect and obtain a copy of their own records with certain limited exceptions. Many units have designated individuals who handle such requests from students. The website with the University of Michigan Student Rights and Student Records policy (URL above) lists many of the offices that maintain student records. Finally, FERPA provides a mechanism for a student to challenge and respond to information contained in his or her student records.
Anyone having access to student records, including faculty, is expected to be familiar with and observe the University’s policy on student records. The Office of the Vice President and General Counsel can assist with questions regarding FERPA.