Family Education Rights and Privacy Act


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Part 99 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations) allows present or former students at educational institutions access to educational records kept on them, as well as basic protections of privacy of their records. The University's policy regarding communication with parents applies equally to students who are minors. Upon a student's matriculation into an undergraduate program at a college or university, regardless of the student's age, rights under FERPA transfer to the student. The law does not apply to applicants seeking admission to the University. The law applies to educational records, which are defined as those records that are directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution.

The law exempts from the definition of "education records," generally, records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel which are kept in the sole possession of the person who made the record and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a substitute for the maker of the record; records of a law enforcement unit of the University which are maintained solely for law enforcement purposes; records of employees of the University; records which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity which are made, maintained or used only in connection with treatment of the student; and records that only contain information about an individual after that individual is no longer a student at the University.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, you have the right to know what types of records relating to students are kept by the University, and to inspect and review any of those records which apply to you. You also have the right to a response to a reasonable request for explanation and interpretation of records which apply to you.

The University will provide the student with a copy of his/her transcript upon written request and payment of a fee as applicable. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act does not give you the right to a copy of your records unless failure to receive a copy would make it impossible for you to exercise your right to inspect and review your records. You can also receive a copy, upon written request, of information from your record which you have instructed the University to disclose to another party. If the University transfers records which apply to you to another educational institution, you can receive a copy of those records if you request it in writing.

The Dean of Students Office, 227 Whitmore Administration Building, keeps a list of types of educational records maintained by the University, where they are kept, and who is responsible for them. The Dean of Students Office also has available a description of your rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and procedures to be followed in exercising those rights.

If you wish to see any of the educational records which apply to you, go to the office which keeps the records during regular working hours. Make your request in writing, following the procedures established by the office. If possible, you will have immediate access to your record. In no case will you have to wait more than 45 days. If you are required to wait, the office will tell you when your record will be available. You will have to identify yourself with a picture ID to see your record.

If confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation were placed in your record before January 1, 1975, they will be removed before you have access to the record provided the letters or statements are used only for the purpose for which they were intended. If you have waived your right to see confidential letters or statements concerning admission to the University, applications for employment, or receipt of an honor, these letters or statements will also be removed before you see your record. If you believe your record contains information which is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights, you have the right to challenge the content of the record. While you cannot challenge the correctness of a grade, you may challenge the accuracy with which the grade was recorded.

If you wish to challenge the content of your record, first try to work the problem out with the person responsible for the record. If this proves unsuccessful, you may request in writing a hearing at which you may present your challenge. Complete information on hearing and appeal procedures is available from the Dean of Students Office, 227 Whitmore Administration building.


The University defines "directory information" as a student's name, local address, home address, e-mail address, major, telephone numbers, date and place of birth; acknowledgement of a student's participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, date(s) of attendance, degrees, certificates, awards received, student employment status and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. The University will make public some or all of this information, unless you specifically request in writing that your prior consent be obtained. REQUESTS BY INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS TO SUPPRESS FROM PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION THE ABOVE-MENTIONED INFORMATION ARE TO BE MADE ANNUALLY TO THE DEAN OF STUDENTS OFFICE, ROOM 227 WHITMORE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING.

The University will not permit access to or release of a student's educational records, or personally identifiable information contained therein (other than directory and public information), to third parties, without the student's written consent, except to the following:

  1. “University Official” is any individual employed by the University of Massachusetts’ (“System Office’) or one of its campuses, (the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, including the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, (including its school of law, University of Massachusetts School of Law, Dartmouth); the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; the University of Massachusetts Worcester, a/k/a the University of Massachusetts Medical School,) (individually a “Campus”) who has a legitimate educational interest in the student information.  These individuals include; but, are not limited to instructors; faculty; advisers; admissions counselors; academic advisers; employment placement personnel; deans; department chairpersons; individuals serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; individuals assisting a University Official; directors; law enforcement personnel; health staff; counselors; attorneys; Advancement Office employees; the president; members of the University of Massachusetts' Board of Trustees; auditors; collection agents.

    A University Official may also be an outside contractor or other agent of the University of Massachusetts’ Campus or the System Office, where the Campus or the System Office or both are outsourcing institutional services or functions, and:

    (a)        The outside contractors or other agents are under the direct control of the Campus or the System Office or both with respect to the use and maintenance of the education records; and

    (b)        The outside contractor or other agent may not disclose the information to any other party without the student’s consent, and may not use the information for any purpose other than the purpose for which the disclosure was made.  In addition, further disclosures may only be made upon the prior written authorization of the respective Campus or System Office.

    A University 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 of Massachusetts.

  2. Authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, authorized representatives of the Attorney General of the United States for law enforcement purposes, and state and local educational authorities.
  3. In connection with a student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid, provided that personally identifiable information from the education records of the student may be disclosed only as may be necessary for such purposes as:

    1. to determine the eligibility of the student for financial aid;
    2. to determine the amount of financial aid;
    3. to determine the conditions which will be imposed regarding the financial aid;
    4. to enforce the terms or conditions of the financial aid.
  4. State and local officials or authorities to whom such information is specifically allowed to be reported or disclosed under state statutes adopted before November 19, 1974 if the allowed reporting or disclosure concerns the juvenile justice system and the system's ability to effectively serve the student whose records are released. Such information may be reported or disclosed under state statutes adopted after November 19, 1974 on the same basis as prior to that date if the report or disclosure will assist the juvenile justice system to serve the student prior to any adjudication.
  5. Organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational institutions for the purposes of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, student aid programs, and improving instruction, provided that the identity of students is not revealed to other than representatives of such organizations.
  6. Recognized accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions.
  7. In compliance with a judicial order, or pursuant to any lawfully issued subpoena, provided that the University makes a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance therewith. A court or other agency which issues a subpoena for law enforcement purposes may order the University and its officials not to disclose the existence or contents of the subpoena to any person.
  8. In connection with an emergency situation, if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons.
  9. Where the disclosure is to parents of a dependent student, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.


The University develops and maintains several types and varieties of educational records on students. A list of what types of records are maintained by the University, where they are kept, what University official has major responsibility for those records, who has access to those records and why, and what it will cost you to obtain a copy of those records, has been developed. A copy of the complete list is available for your inspection in the following locations:

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life
319 Whitmore Administration Building

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
371 Whitmore Administration Building

Legal questions concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be addressed to Associate University Counsel, 374 Whitmore Administration Building.


In addition to the above, the law sets forth other rights and requirements regarding educational records maintained on students:

  1. The University cannot require nor attempt to influence you to waive any rights granted under this legislation, as a condition of admission, receipt of financial aid, or receipt of any other services or benefits.
  2. Parents' financial records and related parental financial information shall not be released to students unless authorized by the parents. Any institutional office maintaining such records shall either store such records in a file separate from records subject to review or conspicuously stamp such records "CONFIDENTIAL — NOT TO BE RELEASED TO STUDENT."

    Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the education records of the student before January 1, 1975, need not be released to the student as long as the statements are used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended.

    Confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation placed in the student's education records after January 1, 1975 need not be released to the student if the student has waived in writing his or her right to inspect and review those letters and statements, and those letters and statements are related to the student's admission to an educational institution, application for employment, or receipt of an honor or honorary recognition. If the waiving student requests, the University will give the student the names of the individuals who provided the letters and statements of recommendations.
  3. The University must maintain a record, to be kept with the educational records of each student, which will indicate all parties who have requested or obtained access to a student's records, and the legitimate interest that such parties have in obtaining such information. This record will be available only to the student, the University personnel responsible for the maintenance of the records, and those within the University who have legitimate educational interests and as otherwise specifically authorized by the Act.
  4. The University must make public notice of the categories of data which it determines to be "directory information" and give a period of time for a student to inform the University that any or all information designated as "directory information" should not be released without his or her consent. Public notice is given by publication in the Daily Collegian at the beginning of each semester.
  5. Complaints regarding violations of this act, or its regulations, may be submitted in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC 20202-4605.

[ top of page ]