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FERPA General Information

The method with which the University of Tennessee Health Science Center governs the distribution of student information is based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 or FERPA.

FERPA provides for confidentiality of student records; however, it also provides for basic identification of people without the consent of the individual. Students are notified of their FERPA rights and the procedures for limiting disclosure of directory information .

Who has FERPA rights?
According to the law, a person becomes a student and has FERPA rights when they are "in attendance" at an institution. At UTHSC, we define a "student in attendance" as someone currently or previously enrolled in any academic program offering. This does not include prospective students or applicants to any UTHSC academic program. Students in attendance include attendance in person, via distance education or remotely by videoconference, satellite, Internet, other electronic telecommunication technologies, and individuals who are auditing course(s) and taking continuing education classes. FERPA becomes effective on the first day of classes of the term for newly matriculating students who have scheduled at least one course. A newly admitted student who accepts an admissions offer but does not schedule at least one course and does not matriculate, or a newly admitted student who cancels his/her registration either before or after the semester begins, is not covered by FERPA. A student’s FERPA rights only expire upon the death of the student.
What are education records?

FERPA defines education records as any record that directly relates to a student and is maintained by an educational agency or a party acting on behalf of the institution. Examples of education records include, but are not limited to:

  • Transcripts
  • Degree audit reports
  • Schedules of classes
  • Class rolls
  • Academic history reports
  • Grade rolls
  • Financial records

The following items are NOT education records, as defined by FERPA:

  • Sole possession records (records kept in the sole possession of the maker, used as a personal memory aid and not revealed to others)
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records, provided the employment is not contingent upon being a student
  • Medical, psychological, counseling, or mental health records, that are maintained for treatment purposes
  • Peer-graded papers, before they are collected and recorded by the instructor
  • Post attendance education records, that are created or received by the educational institution after the individual is no longer in attendance
  • Education records, not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student
Who may have access to personally identifiable education records?
FERPA allows University officials and officials of agencies acting on behalf of the university with "legitimate educational interest" to access personally identifiable education records. A University official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); contractors, consultants, volunteers and other outside parties to whom the institution has outsourced institutional services or functions instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
What is directory information?

Directory information is information about a student that is not generally considered harmful if disclosed. Directory information may be disclosed UNLESS the student has invoked the FERPA right to limit disclosure of that information.

  • Student's name
  • Local and permanent addresses
  • Email address (university-supplied)
  • Telephone number
  • Year of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance at UTHSC
  • Degrees, honors, and awards granted or received and dates granted or received
  • Academic classification, such as freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, etc.
  • Most recent educational institution previously attended
  • Dissertation or thesis title
  • Advisor or thesis/dissertation advisor
  • Participation in officially recognized organizations, activities, sports
  • Parents' names and addresses (city and state only)
What is NOT directory information?

All non-directory information the university maintains about a particular student, including such information as:

  • Social Security number
  • Student ID number
  • Grades
  • Term and cumulative GPAs
  • Student schedule
  • Academic history
  • Academic standing
What are possible federal and state data collection and uses?
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education's FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without student consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities ("Federal and State Authorities") may allow access to student records and PII without student consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal — or state — supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to education records and PII without student consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without student consent PII from education records, and they may track participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
Where can I find more information about FERPA?

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Offices maintains an excellent website of FERPA information. For questions about FERPA, contact the Office of the University Registrar at registrar@uthsc.edu or by calling 901.448.5568.

What is the complaint procedure?

A complaint must contain specific allegations of fact giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act has occurred.

The Office investigates each timely complaint to determine whether the educational agency or institution has failed to comply with the provisions of the Act. 

A timely complaint is defined as an allegation of a violation of the Act that is submitted to the Office within 180 days of the date of the alleged violation or of the date that the complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation.

The Office may extend the time limit for good cause shown.

If I want to file a FERPA complaint, who do I contact?

UTHSC FERPA Compliance Officer

The Registrar serves as the UTHSC FERPA Compliance Officer and investigates possible FERPA violations and misconduct on campus. If you believe your FERPA rights have been violated or there has been a failure to comply with FERPA at UTHSC, please contact:

The UTHSC Registrar's Office at 901.448.5568 or registrar@uthsc.edu
Location: 910 Madison Avenue, Suite 520, Memphis, TN 38163
Federal FERPA Compliance Office

An eligible student may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) regarding an alleged violation under the Act. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

Last Published: Apr 3, 2019