The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 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. Examples include emails between faculty and a student, copies of disciplinary records, scholarship application records, emails from non-academic unit individuals to or about a student, etc. 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 is UW directory information and the student has not placed a hold on directory information release in MyUW or otherwise (check the Student Directory List for details), or
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 Registrar that they do not want directory information released.
Be aware that restricting the release of 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.
Restrict Release of Directory Information
Students who do not wish to authorize the release of directory information and do not want their directory information to appear in the University Student Directory must inform the Office of the Registrar by completing the following steps:
Go to Profile, then in Student Directory Information click on “Change your release settings”.
In the Directory Release section, select the No option.
Students may choose to opt-out of directly information release at any time.
Change Release Restriction from NO to YES
At any time after restricting directory information release, students may change their mind and authorize the University to release directory information and for it to appear in the University Student Directory. Students can grant such authorization via:
MyUW – Go to Profile, then in Student Directory Information click on “Change your release settings”. In the Directory Release section, select the Yes option.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org – Provide full name, student ID number, a scanned copy of photo ID (passport or state issued ID), request, and signature.
Guaranteed Student Rights Under FERPA
Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students have the right to:
inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the date the University receives an access request (WAC 478-140). Students should submit a written request to the University official that maintains the record that identifies the record they wish to inspect.
request the amendment of student education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA (WAC 478-140-021). This process cannot be used to challenge grades.
provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent (WAC 478-140-024).
file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA (WAC 478-140-070). Written complaints should be directed to Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave SW, Washington DC 20202-5901
Report a Violation
The UW Privacy Office provides a tool to report a FERPA violation or accidental release of student data. Please review the information and instructions on how to Report an Incident before submitting an incident report.
For more information on FERPA, please review the following resources:
Currently enrolled students can use the Release of Records Request form below to identify specific UW education record(s) to be released, the recipient(s) of the records, and the purpose of the release. Non-enrolled students can email email@example.com to inquire about records release. Student Fiscal Services (SFS) provides students with an authorization system to allow others to access their Tuition Statement.
The Release of Records Request form is intended as a one-time records request for students to access their own records and release those records to a non-UW school official or UW student. It is not a blanket request to release all student records.
Student FERPA Records Request: Currently enrolled students may request copies of their own education records to be provisioned to themselves. The Office of the Registrar will provide the requested records as a personal FERPA record request by the 45-day deadline from the date the request is received, as established in the FERPA law.
External FERPA Records Release Request: Release of specific education record(s) to an individual apart from the student.