FERPA for Faculty and Staff

Student Privacy Rights Under FERPA

The University of Scranton recognizes the privacy rights of students and former students as guaranteed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. FERPA governs release of, and access to, student education records.

The University considers the following elements of student education records to be directory information:

  • Name, former name, date and place of birth/age, major fields of study, email address, class level, address (local and permanent), photograph, dates of attendance, enrollment status, campus employment, degrees, awards, academic honors, telephone number (campus/local and permanent), weight and height of members of athletic teams, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, expected and actual dates of graduation.

Directory information, as defined above, may be disclosed without the student’s consent unless the student has prohibited the disclosure of student directory information. Students who have chosen to prohibit the disclosure of student directory information have a "confidential" indicator on their student records.

Aside from these considerations, University of Scranton faculty and staff may not disclose personally identifiable information (PII) from student education records without the student’s written consent.  Non-directory, PII educational record information, includes, but is not limited to, course enrollment activity, credit totals, research activity and projects, grade data, academic standing and g.p.a. information, internship/residency placements, academic integrity/disciplinary action information, etc.

Letters/Statements of Recommendation

A student who seeks a letter or statement of recommendation from a University (School) Official must authorize the action by completing the FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation. Students are instructed to read, complete and sign the form before delivering it to the School Official(s) from whom the student seeks a letter of recommendation or reference. A separate form must be submitted for each recipient of the letter or reference.  It is recommended that the School Official retain the authorization form for at least one (1) year.  

Questions regarding FERPA or the authorization form may be directed to the Office of the Registrar and Academic Services.

FERPA Training Resources and Tips

The Department of Education has several FERPA training resources, including:

  • an online training course for college and university personnel was developed by the Student Privacy Policy Office's Privacy Technical Assistance Center as an introduction to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and its requirements relating to the privacy and security of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in student records; 
  • resource page for post-secondary school officials.


  • Do not post grades or return graded materials in a manner that would allow one student to learn the grade of another.
  • Use your UofS email and the student's UofS email when communicating with a student.
  • Utilize the BCC feature and student UofS email accounts when mass-emailing a group of students (by emailing yourself, and blind copying all of the students) or create a distribution list in order to keep the email addresses unviewable to others and secure within the official university email account system.
  • Do not look up academic record information about a student unless it is part of your specific job duties.
  • Share student information within the University only with those who have a "legitimate educational interest." (Those with a "legitimate educational interest" are University employees who have a need to know in order to carry out their official job duties.)
  • If in doubt, don't give it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have a signed authorization form to write a letter or give a reference?

Statements made or written by someone making a recommendation for a student from that person’s own observations or knowledge do not require a written release from that student. If personally identifiable information obtained from a student’s education record is included in a statement or letter of recommendation (i.e. grades, course enrollment, GPA, etc.), the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which:
1.  Specifies the records that may be disclosed,
2.  States the purpose of the disclosure, and
3.  Identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made.
A completed FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation satisfies FERPA's requirement for a signed release.

May faculty and staff submit electronic recommendation or reference forms?

Staff and faculty may complete online or electronic recommendation forms on behalf of a student as long as they have received a completed FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation from the student. The information may be shared only with the identified recipient.

Can the student submit a FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation to me electronically?

Yes, the student may send you a completed and signed FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation as an attachment to an email message as long as the form is signed and message was sent from the student's University of Scranton email address. If the requestor is a former student who is sending an email from an outside email address, the form must be signed and you must be able to verify that the requestor is the former student through that message or other communication. 

What if the student declines to waive the right to review my letter of recommendation?

If it is not your practice to provide letters or statements of recommendation unless the student waives the right to review the information, please inform the student that you will not be able to provide a meaningful  recommendation unless the content of your recommendation remains confidential. 

If the student declines to submit a FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation, must I still provide a recommendation or reference?

No. Please inform the student that you will not be able to provide a meaningful recommendation or serve as a reference without the form, as FERPA prohibits you from disclosing non-directory, personally-identifiable information without the student's consent.

How are students informed about the FERPA Authorization Form for Letters/Statements of Recommendation?

The Office of the Registrar and Academic Services has a student resource page on their website that explains FERPA and the process to request letters/statements of recommendation from School Officials. Additionally, the office annually emails students FERPA disclosures and reminders.
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