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Privacy and the Release of Education Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, establishes requirements regarding the privacy of student records.  FERPA governs the access to, and release of, education records maintained by educational institutions.  Regarding education records, FERPA establishes rights of parents of students in elementary and secondary schools, and transfers those rights from the parent to the student, regardless of age, upon enrollment in an institution of higher education.

Online you can find text of the act, UMBC’s annual FERPA notification, as well as the University’s policy regarding Disclosure of Student Records.  This page serves as a quick reference regarding the privacy and release of student information as practiced by the University; for complete information, please reference the aforementioned documents.

FERPA categorizes education records as either confidential or directory information.  FERPA requires written permission to release confidential information, but grants certain exceptions; FERPA permits release of directory information without prior consent.

Confidential records include items such as grades and course schedules.  Students can inspect and review their confidential education records using their myUMBC accounts.  To authorize release of confidential records, such as ordering a transcript, students should contact the UMBC Registrar’s Office. FERPA grants release of confidential education records, without consent of the student, to certain parties such as University officials, including instructors, with legitimate educational interest, accrediting organizations, officials of other schools where a student seeks enrollment, and certain government officials; those receiving records in this manner are required to maintain the privacy of these records and must use them only in the authorized manner.

Directory information includes items such as name, dates of attendance, major, and degree earned.  Unlike confidential information, directory information can be released without a student’s consent.  Certain officials at UMBC, in conjunction with the Registrar’s Office, sometimes release directory information. (An example of a release of directory information might be verifying enrollment for a student loan deferment or the printing of an athlete’s class in a sporting event program.) Students have the right to withhold the release of directory information, but should be advised to carefully consider the consequences of a decision to do so.  The Registrar’s Office can assist with those who wish to learn more about withholding the release of directory information.