Under the terms of FERPA, the University of Sioux Falls has established the following as Directory Information. This information may be released to those requesting it unless students specifically request otherwise.

Directory Information
  • Student Name
  • Campus Address
  • Campus Phone Number
  • Permanent Address
  • Permanent Phone Number
  • E-mail Address
  • Parents' Names
  • Hometown
  • High School Attended
  • Dates of Attendance at USF
  • Full-time/Part-time Status
  • Honors, Awards, Special Recognition
  • Degree(s) Received
  • Major
  • Classification (Senior, Junior, etc.)
  • Activities
  • Photographs
  • Sports Participation (including height and weight of team members)

*All other information cannot be released without written consent of students.

Non-Disclosure of Directory Information

Students must request in writing that directory information be withheld from those requesting it. This request must be made before the second Friday of the semester.

Once a request to withhold directory information is requested, it will be in effect until students request otherwise to the Office of the Registrar.

Records of Deceased Students

Upon a student's death, education records are not protected under FERPA. As such, the disposition of education records pertaining to a deceased student is not a FERPA issue but a matter of institutional policy. The University of Sioux Falls maintains full discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, education records of deceased students should be disclosed.

In general, the Registrar's Office, on behalf of the University, will not release education records but may do so under the following conditions:

  1. The Registrar's Office will release such records if the University receives a valid subpoena requesting such records.
  2. The Registrar's Office may choose to release such records with the written authorization of the executor deceased student's estates or next of kin, if an executor has not been appointed. Such individual would need to provide proof of student's death (i.e., death certificate or obituary notice).

Top 15 Questions on FERPA

What is FERPA?

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is also referred to as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA is a federal law (20 U.S.C. section 1232g) that was passed by Congress in 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records. It also provides rights to access or amend those records.

What institutions must comply with FERPA?

FERPA applies to any public or private institution of higher education that receives funds under programs administered by the Department of Education, including but not limited to federal grants, Pell grants and guaranteed student loans. In other words, it applies to the University of Sioux Falls as well as most other colleges and universities. FERPA also applies to elementary and secondary schools.

Who is protected under FERPA?

Students who are or have been in attendance at the University of Sioux Falls have FERPA rights. These rights are exercised by students (even students under 18) in postsecondary institutions whereas in elementary and secondary schools the rights are exercised by the parent

What are the students' rights?

Students primarily have the following rights under FERPA:

  • The right to inspect and review their education records within a maximum of 45 days after the request is made. This right includes (1) the right to an explanation and interpretation of the record, (2) the right to a copy of the education records when failure to provide a copy of the record would effectively prevent students from inspecting and reviewing the record.
  • The right to request the amendment of education records, if students believe the records are inaccurate or misleading.
  • The right to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of their student records.
  • The right to complain to the Department of Education about a violation of FERPA.

Students do not have the right to inspect and review the following:

  • Financial information submitted by parents.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files after January 1, 1975, to which students waived their rights to inspect and review and that are related to students' admission, applications for employment or job placements, or receipts of honors.
  • Education records containing information about more than one student.

Do parents have any rights under FERPA?

As mentioned previously, at the postsecondary level, students hold and exercise the rights under FERPA. Parents have no inherent right to inspect their child's education records. In general, records may only be released to parents under the following circumstances:

  • With the written consent of students.
  • In compliance with a properly issued subpoena.
  • Upon submission of evidence that parents declare students as dependents on their most recent Federal Income Tax forms.

If there is not confirmation of one of the three circumstances noted above, it is best to advise parents that students should make the request for information or students must provide consent to disclose the information in writing.

What is an Education Record?

An education record is any record that is directly related to students and is kept by the University. This definition includes information recorded in any way, including electronic records and e-mail. This is an extremely broad definition. Therefore, unless one of the exceptions noted below applies, it is best to assume that if it relates to students, it is an education record.

What is Not an Education Record?

There are several exceptions to the definition of an education record under FERPA. Some key exceptions are:

  • Sole possession records – faculty records that are not disclosed to other parties except someone who must serve as substitute for a given course. Personal grade books or draft exams are examples of these records. However, even though students might not have right to access the personal grade book, due process might require access to students' own grades under some circumstances such as a grade grievance. Students' transcripts are an education record.
  • Records of a law enforcement unit of the educational agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement.
  • Employment records unless employment is a result of students' statuses, such as work study.
  • Medical treatment records may not be considered an education record but they are confidential under other law and professional ethics requirements.

When is written consent not necessary?

Set forth below are situations when students' written consent is not necessary prior to disclosing students' record information:

  • Disclosures to other school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the information or document (see below for a further explanation of this exception).
  • Disclosures to authorized representatives for audit of Federal or State supported programs.
  • Disclosures to Veteran's Administration officials.
  • Disclosures to other schools where students intend to enroll on the condition that the issuing institution makes a reasonable attempt to inform students of the disclosure.
  • In an emergency situation. An emergency exists when the information being provided is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals.
  • Disclosures to persons or organization providing financial aid to students.
  • Disclosures to accrediting organizations carrying out accrediting functions.
  • Disclosures made in compliance with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena if the institution makes a reasonable attempt to notify students in advance of compliance.
  • The results of an institutional disciplinary proceeding may be disclosed to an alleged victim of any crime of violence.
  • Disclosure to an outside contractor if that contractor is a "party acting for" the institution and is performing a service which the institution would otherwise have to perform for itself (such as use of the National Student Loan Clearinghouse for loan verification).

What is a legitimate educational interest?

A University may disclose education records to school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the information or document without students' consent. The University of Sioux Falls defines school officials as "persons employed by the University; persons or companies with whom the University has contracted (such as attorneys, auditors or collection agents); persons serving on the board of trustees; students serving on an official committee such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting other University officials in performing their tasks." School officials have legitimate educational interests if "the official needs to review education records in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities."

What if I want to use student education records in my research?

See complete Educational Research and FERPA document.

What is directory information?

Under FERPA, a higher education institution may define some education record information as "directory information" and not confidential under FERPA. The University of Sioux Falls has defined directory information as follows: "students' full names, home addresses and telephone numbers, campus addresses and telephone numbers, campus e-mail addresses, state of residence, date and place of birth, marital status, academic classes, class schedules and class rosters, name of advisors, major field of study, including the colleges, divisions, departments or programs in which students are enrolled, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance and graduation, degrees and honors and awards received including selection to a dean's list or honorary organization and the grade point averages of students selected, and the most previous educational institution attended. Photographic, video or electronic images of students taken and maintained by the University are also considered directory information."

Can students refuse to allow directory information to be released?

Yes, students may opt out or preclude directory information from being disclosed. In order to do so, students must give written notification to the Registrar's Office in Jordan Hall.

Should faculty be careful about how grades are posted?

Yes. The public posting of grades by students' names, University identification numbers or social security numbers without students' written permission is a violation of FERPA. Any faculty members who post grades must use a system that ensures FERPA requirements are met. For example, a system using code words or randomly assigned numbers known only by the instructors and the individual students is one option. Do not leave a stack of graded exams in a place where other students or individuals can access them. Also, do not disclose one student's grade to other students.

What should a faculty member do before writing a letter of reference for a student?

FERPA prohibits the disclosure of non-directory information about students (such as performances in classes, grades, attitude, abilities and background) whether it is conveyed in writing, in person or by telephone to third parties. Often references are provided by faculty members upon the informal request of students. Even though references are usually positive, the better practice is to request written consent that meets the FERPA requirements before providing the reference information to third parties.

Who can I speak to if I have further questions about FERPA?

Please contact the Registrar's Office with further questions. All faculty members should also read the annual FERPA notice published for students in the Undergraduate and Graduate Announcements.