FERPA Tutorial

Responsibilities of NIU Staff Handling Student Records

FERPA pertains to everyone who works at Northern Illinois University , regardless of his or her position. What FERPA says, in effect, is that we may all have access to as much information about students as we need to do our jobs. Clearly, many people who work at the University have no access to student records and have no need for individual student information. However, these staff members may encounter confidential information in the course of doing their job and are therefore required to respect the confidentiality of this data.

Beyond any legal requirements, the university is bound by professional ethics to safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of student information. This includes all university officials, regardless of role or classification. All staff must be in compliance with the FERPA regulations and University policy in order to maintain, report and make available information included in student educational records. Here are some examples:

  1. Staff may not browse through student records, whether in “hard copy”, form or in computer files, for information about students at random or for information about persons we know.
  2. Staff must take reasonable precautions to safeguard access to student information. These include shredding documents, not sharing computer ID and passwords, not allowing others to do work under our ID and passwords, and not leaving the student information system up and running and accessible when away from the work station.
  3. Student information should not released to others.  When in doubt, consult the Office of Registration and Records.
  4. Student data may be shared among University staff as necessary to carry out the responsibilities of their position; however, take precaution to ensure the security of the student data being shared.
  5. Staff should refer requests for information from the education record of a student to the proper educational record custodian, e.g., academic, financial, medical, and placement.
  6. Staff should not display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, social security numbers, or other personally identifiable information. If scores and grades are posted, use only a coding method agreed upon mutually by the entire class which does not include personally identifiable information. The list should be randomly generated, i.e., displayed in such ways that it not appears in alphabetical order by student name.
  7. Staff should keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of his/her specific responsibilities. Private notes of a staff member concerning a student and intended for a staff members own use are not part of the student's educational record.
  8. Staff should not provide non-directory information to third parties such as prospective employers, associations, honorary organizations, etc. without the student's written consent.
  9. Staff should keep any personal professional records relating to individual students separate from their educational records. Private records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel and ancillary educational personnel are to be kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not to be accessible or revealed to any other person, except a substitute.
  10. Staff should not provide copies to students of their transcripts from other institutions. If you release copies of transcripts, you are acting as a third party testifying as to the accuracy of the information on the transcripts.
  11. Staff should understand that only the appropriate educational record custodian may release information about a student's educational record to a third party outside the university.
  12. All student information requests in the case of an emergency should be directed to Student Affairs at 753-6103 during regular office hours or Public Safety (University Police) at 753-1212 after hours.


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