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FERPA Use and Release of Student Information Policy


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their educational records. This federal law applies to all schools that receive funding under most programs administered by the Department of Education. The primary rights afforded each student are the right to inspect and review his/her educational records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records.

Educational Records are defined as those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. School Officials are those members of the institution who are deemed to have a legitimate educational interest, with access to educational records provided on a need-to-know basis. School Officials may include faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and other persons who manage student educational record information.

Directory Information is defined as information which would not generally be considered harmful to the student, or an invasion of privacy, if disclosed. Consistent with federal law, Cal Poly has defined Directory Information as the following: name, mailing address, preferred telephone listing, email address, major, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, photograph, weight and height of athletic team members, most recent previous educational institution attended, participation in officially recognized activities and sports. [For student employees in Unit 11, directory information also includes the department employed and the student's status as an academic employee, (Teaching Associate (TA), Graduate Assistant (GA) or Instruction Student Assistant (ISA).] Cal Poly allows students to protect all Directory Information or a subset of this information referred to as Locator Information, which includes: name, mailing address, preferred telephone listing, email address.

The student's privacy restriction request is recorded in the university electronic student information system and notifies each user of the requested privacy level whenever the student's identification number is entered. The screen which automatically appears indicates the privacy category the student has selected (locator or all directory information) and reminds the user of the specific elements which are included in each category.

FERPA requires that the University notify students annually of their rights. Each academic year Cal Poly sends out notification to students, providing information on these rights and giving students an easy mechanism to update the privacy restriction flag. This information is also provided to each group of new students prior to their registration.

University Policy on Use and Release of Student Information:

The University will release Directory Information (as defined above), when not protected by the student, and disclose other information from a student's education record only with consent, except:

  1. To school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records.
    • A school official is:
      • A person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff);
      • A person elected to the Board of Trustees;
      • A person employed by or under contract to the University to perform a special task, such as legal counsel or an auditor.
    • A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official is:
      • Performing a task that is specific in his or her job description or by a contract agreement; or
      • Performing a task related to a student's education; or
      • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student; or
      • Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student's family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
  2. To a University auxiliary organization in good standing (Title 5) where services are provided on behalf of the University's educational interest.
  3. To officials of another school, upon request, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
  4. To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with certain state or federally supported education programs.
  5. In connection with a student's request for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
  6. To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the University.
  7. To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions.
  8. To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
  9. To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.


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