Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA Scenarios


Seattle Pacific University is committed to meeting the provisions established in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the right of parents of dependent students and of students who are attending or have attended the University.


Information specific to faculty members is included below, but note that there is more complete information at


All faculty members represent SPU and have responsibilities regarding access to personal information. Certain information is considered “private” and cannot be disclosed without the written permission of the student. This information includes grades, student schedules, and rosters.

The following guidelines ensure students’ privacy rights are protected:

  • Grade information (student papers, grade rosters, and grade books) should be kept in a secure location. Student papers for pick up should be left with the building administrative assistants, not left outside faculty offices, unattended.
  • When grades are posted outside faculty offices or classrooms, students’ anonymity must be ensured. Even if student names are blocked out, Social Security numbers are considered private information. Assigning each student a random personal identification number or code name at the beginning of the quarter is acceptable. (It is a breach of the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act of 1974 to have any personally identifiable information in the posting.)
  • Student’s schedules are private information. The location of a student should not be disclosed. In emergencies, the Office of Safety and Security and Student Academic Services can locate on-campus students to relay information.

The University allows any enrolled student the option of becoming confidential in the computer system in order to protect his or her identity from outside sources. When an SPU student requests their records and identity to be flagged as confidential, the following ramifications may apply:

  • The University will respond to inquiries about the confidential student as though the student is not known at the University.
  • The confidential student may not obtain any information about records over the telephone, but must appear in person with proper identification to make any inquiry.
  • The confidential student will not appear in any student publications or listings, including, but not limited to, the Commencement brochure and the online directory.


FERPA Scenarios

Q: A parent of one of your students is asking for a progress report in your course. Do you release that information?

A: Grades are considered confidential and should never be released without the student’s consent. Personal observations of the student do not require written consent.


Q: When emailing my class roster, is it OK to include student ID#’s and email addresses?

A: If you’re emailing more than one student, the ID#/SSN/grades should never be included. Email addresses are considered directory information and can be distributed without the student’s consent.


Q: A student has asked me to write a recommendation. May I request access to the student’s record?

A: SAS would see this as a “legitimate educational interest” of you, the professor, and grant you access to the student’s records. The student may need to provide written consent if you are requested to include the student’s transcript, GPA, and other nondirectory information in the recommendation. Your personal observations do not need the student’s written consent.



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