Student privacy rights & FERPA

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. "Education records" are "those records, files documents, and other materials which 1) contain information directly related to a student; and 2) are maintained by an educational institution. (20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A); 34 CFR § 99.3). FERPA applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Generally speaking, FERPA allows the University to disclose education records or personally identifiable information from education records in the following circumstances: with the written consent of the student, if the disclosure meets one of the statutory exemptions, or if the disclosure is directory information and the student has not placed a hold on release of directory information.

Pursuant to WAC 478-140-024(5), directory information at the University of Washington is defined as:

  • Student's name
  • Street address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Major and minor field(s) of studies
  • Class
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Weight and height, if student is a member of an intercollegiate athletic team

FERPA allows the University to release a student's directory information to anyone unless the student informs the Office of the University Registrar that he or she does not wish directory information to be released.

NO to Release of Directory Information

If you do not wish to authorize the release of directory information and do not want your directory information to appear in the University Student Directory, you must inform the Office of the Registrar of this by logging on to your MyUW account and choosing to "restrict access" to directory information. You may choose to opt out of directory information at any time via your MyUW account.

You should be aware that restricting the release of your directory information has other consequences. For instance, a FERPA restriction makes it difficult or impossible for potential employers to verify your enrollment, or to verify the fact that you have earned a degree from the University. The University cannot notify your hometown paper about awards and honors you receive (e.g., Dean's list). For this reason alone, many students choose to remove their FERPA restriction.

Change from NO to YES

At any time after restricting the release of your directory information, you may change your mind and choose to authorize the University to release directory information and for it to appear in the University Student Directory. You can grant such authorization via your MyUW account at any time or by contacting to the UW Tacoma, Office of the Registrar at, and attach a copy or photo of an official government issued identification with your request.

Notification of Students' Rights Under FERPA

FERPA also affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

These rights include:

  • The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. 

To inspect and review his or her education records, a student should submit to the university official(s) or office(s) having custody of the particular record(s), a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. For more information see WAC 478-140.

  • The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA. (This process cannot be used to challenge a grade.)

A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write the appropriate University dean or director responsible for custody of the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. See WAC 478-140-021.

If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student's right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. See WAC 478-140-021. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

  • The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

The University discloses education records without a student's 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 in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including, but not limited to UW Police Department personnel, Safe Campus personnel, and health staff); a contractor, consultant, or other outside service provider retained to provide various institutional services and functions under contract or by statute instead of using University employees or officials (including, but not limited to an attorney, auditor, collection agent, information systems specialist, teaching affiliate, and clinical mentor); a person serving on the Board of Trustees, the Institutional Review Board, and any other University board, committee or council; or 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.

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University.

Upon request, the University also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. This disclosure may be made at any point in time, even after the student has enrolled in the new school, if the disclosure is in connection with the student's enrollment in the new school. The University may also update, correct, or explain information it has disclosed to another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. 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 20202-5901