Student Education Records (FERPA)

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

Federal law and regulations require that "education records," including almost all University records which relate directly to a student, must be held in confidence. The student, however, has a legal right of access to their own education records. Faculty members and administrators who have a legitimate educational interest may have access to a student's confidential records without the student's permission, but in most other cases the written consent of the student is required before access may legally be permitted. Students have certain rights to correct or delete inaccurate or misleading information in their education records.


UNC Charlotte adheres to a policy of compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment or FERPA, a federal law that affords students the following rights with respect to their education records:

  1. to inspect and review the student's education records;
  2. to consent to disclosure of the student's education records to third parties, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent;
  3. to request amendment of the student's education records to ensure that they are not inaccurate or misleading;
  4. to be notified of the student's privacy rights under FERPA;
  5. to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  

The University has designated the University Registrar to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records.

I. Definitions

A. "Directory Information" means information in a student's education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. At UNC Charlotte, directory information consists of the student's name; major field of study; dates of attendance; enrollment status; degrees and awards (including scholarships and distinctions) received; and county of residence for award, scholarship, or distinction recipients.

Photographs, videos, or other media containing a student’s image or likeness (collectively, “student images”) and University-issued student electronic mail addresses (“email addresses”) are designated by UNC Charlotte as “Limited Use Directory Information.” Use and disclosure of Limited Use Directory Information will be restricted to:

  1. publication in official University publications or on social media sites or websites hosted or maintained by, on behalf of, or for the benefit of the University, including the University’s online directory and internal email system;
  2. University officials who have access, consistent with FERPA, to such information and only in conjunction with a legitimate educational interest; and
  3. external parties contractually affiliated with the University, provided such affiliation requires the sharing of Limited Use Directory Information.  

In addition, the following shall be considered Limited Use Directory Information that may be disclosed only to other students enrolled in the same course (regardless of whether such students are enrolled in the same class section or break-out group) that has been audio or video recorded by the University, for instructional and educational purposes only:

  1. name, to the extent it is referenced or captured during the audio or video recording; 
  2. any photograph or image of the student captured during the audio or video recording; 
  3. any audio or video recording of the student participating in the course; and 
  4. any online chats or other recorded communications among participants in the course captured during the audio or video recording.

A student who requests to withhold this Limited Use Directory Information from disclosure pursuant to Section II.B.1 below may limit the extent to which they will be able to participate in the course.

To protect the privacy of other students, students are not permitted to make their own recordings of class sessions or to share or distribute University recordings of class sessions.

B. "Education Records" include records directly related to a student that are maintained by UNC Charlotte. Education records do not include:  

  1. Records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel that are in the sole possession of the maker (i.e. file notes of conversations), are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute;
  2. Records of the UNC Charlotte campus police;
  3. Student medical and counseling records created, maintained, and used only in connection with provision of medical treatment or counseling to the student, that are not disclosed to anyone other than the individuals providing the treatment. (While a student may not inspect their medical records, these records may be reviewed by a physician of the student's choice);
  4. Employment records unrelated to the student's status as a student;
  5. Records created or received by an educational agency or institution after an individual is no longer a student in attendance, and that are not directly related to the individual's attendance as a student;
  6. Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher.

C. "Personally Identifiable Information" includes, but is not limited to:  

  1. The student's name;
  2. The name of the student's parent or other family members;
  3. The address of the student or student's family;
  4. A personal identifier, such as the student's social security number, student identification number, or biometric record;
  5. Other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name;
  6. Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
  7. Information requested by a person who the University reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.

D. "Student" means an individual who is or who has been in attendance at UNC Charlotte. It does not include persons who have been admitted but did not attend at the University.1 For the purposes of this policy, "attendance" includes attendance in person or by paper correspondence, videoconference, satellite, Internet, or other electronic information and telecommunications technologies for students who are not physically present in the classroom; and the period during which a person is working under a UNC Charlotte work-study program.

II. Disclosure of Education Records

A. Disclosure to the Student

The student has the right, on request to the appropriate University official, to review all materials that are in the student's education records, except:

  1. Financial information submitted by the student's parents;
  2. Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement, or honors, to which the student has waived rights of inspection and review (the University is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January l, 1975, provided those letters were collected under established policies of confidentiality and were used only for the purposes for which they were collected);
  3. Education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the University will permit access only to that part of the record that pertains to the inquiring student.
B. Disclosure without Prior Consent of the Student

The University will not disclose any information from a student's education records without prior written consent of the student, except as follows:  

1. Directory Information

Directory information (as defined in Section I above), including student images and email addresses, may appear in public documents and may otherwise be disclosed without student consent unless a student submits a request form to the Registrar to withhold such information from disclosure. A request for non-disclosure will be honored by the University indefinitely, unless the student submits to the Registrar a written revocation of such request for non-disclosure.  

2. University Officials

University officials with legitimate educational interests in the student's education records are allowed access to student education records. A "legitimate educational interest" is defined as an interest that is essential to the general process of higher education, including teaching, research, public service, academic advising, general counseling, discipline, job placement, financial assistance, medical services, and academic assistance activities.

University officials who may have access to only those education records in which they have legitimate educational interests include, but are not limited to, personnel in the following offices:

  • Undergraduate Admissions
  • Graduate Admissions
  • Office of the University Registrar
  • Office of Undergraduate Education
  • Financial Aid
  • Financial Services
  • Auxiliary Services
  • Student Employment Office
  • University Center for Academic Excellence
  • Career Center
  • Counseling Center
  • Office of Adult Student and Extended Services (OASES)
  • Disability Services
  • OneIT, for technical support associated with maintaining student education records only
  • Internal Audit
  • Office of Enrollment Management
  • Office of Director of Athletics
  • Office of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Office of Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs
  • Office of Dean of Students
  • Office of Dean of Graduate School
  • Office of International Programs
  • Offices of Chairpersons of Departments
  • Offices of Deans of Colleges
  • Offices of Directors of Interdisciplinary Units
  • Office of Provost
  • Office of Chancellor
  • Office of Legal Affairs
  • Campus Police, for internal law enforcement or health and safety purposes only
  • University Advancement
  • Teaching and Learning Connection
  • Academic counselors and advisors
  • Campus Behavioral Intervention Team
  • Office of Institutional Research
  • Faculty members
  • Other academic and administrative personnel, as approved by the Chancellor

3. Parents of Dependents

Parents of a student who is a dependent for federal tax purposes, as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, may have access to that student's education records without prior consent of the student. Parents may demonstrate the tax dependency of a student only by submitting to the University a copy of the first and signature pages of their most recently filed federal income tax return (with personal financial data removed). Alternatively, a student may demonstrate tax dependency, and thus allow parental access to the student's records without prior consent of the student, by submitting to the University a signed statement of their tax dependency. If a dependent student's parents are divorced, both parents may have access to the student's records, so long as at least one parent claims the student as a dependent.  

4. Other Institutions

The University may release a student's education records to officials of another school, school system, or institution of postsecondary education where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled, so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.  

5. Financial Aid

The University may release a student's education records to persons or organizations in connection with that student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid, but only to the extent necessary for such purposes as determining eligibility, amount, conditions, and enforcement of terms or conditions of such financial aid.  

6. Accreditation Agencies

The University may release students' education records to accreditation organizations or agencies for purposes necessary to carry out their accreditation functions.  

7. Judicial Orders

Information concerning a student shall be released in response to a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, subject to the conditions set forth in 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(9). The University will make reasonable efforts to notify the student of a subpoena before complying with it, except that the University shall not notify a student of a subpoena if it is from a federal grand jury or is for law enforcement purposes, and it provides that the University shall not disclose to any person the existence or contents of the subpoena or any information furnished in response to the subpoena.  

8. Litigation

If the University initiates legal action against a parent or student, or if a parent or student initiates legal action against the University, the University may disclose to the court, without a court order or subpoena, the education records of the student that are relevant for the University to proceed with the legal action as plaintiff or to defend itself in such legal action.  

9. Health and Safety

The University may, subject to the conditions set forth in 34 CFR § 99.36, disclose student information to appropriate persons, including parents of a student, in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.  

10. Student Conduct Hearing Results

a. Disclosure to Victims

The University may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in Chapter 1, Section 16 of Title 18, United States Code), or a non-forcible sex offense, the final results of any student conduct proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of such crime or offense with respect to such crime or offense, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator was found responsible for violating the University’s rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense.  

b. Disclosure to Third Parties

The University may disclose the final results of any student conduct proceeding against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (as those terms are defined in 34 C.F.R. 99.39), if the student is found responsible on or after October 7, 1998, for violating the University's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense. Such disclosure shall include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the University on that student. Such disclosure may include the name of any other student, such as a victim or witness, only with the written consent of that other student.  

11. Alcohol and Drug Violations

The University may disclose to a parent or legal guardian of a student, information regarding any violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, regardless of whether that information is contained in the student's education records, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure to the parent, and the University determines that the student is responsible for a student conduct violation with respect to such use or possession.  

12. Federal, State, and Local Officials and Educational Authorities

Subject to the requirements of 34 CFR § 99.35, the University may disclose education records to authorized representatives of (i) The Comptroller General of the United States; (ii) The Attorney General of the United States; (iii) The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (or an official or employee of the Department of Education acting for the Secretary under a delegation of authority); or (iv) State and local educational authorities.  (See 34 CFR § 99.31.)

13. Institutional Studies

The University may disclose education records, but only under the conditions set forth in 34 CFR § 99.31(a)(6), to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to (A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (B) Administer student aid programs; or (C) Improve instruction.  

14. Contractors

The University may disclose education records to a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom the University has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the outside party:

  1. Performs an institutional service or function for which University would otherwise use employees;
  2. Is under the direct control of the University with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and
  3. Is subject to the requirements of Section 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of Personally Identifiable Information from education records.

15. Registered Sex Offenders

The University may disclose education records concerning sex offenders and other individuals required to register under Section 170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. 14071, if the information was provided to the University under 42 U.S.C. 14071 and applicable Federal guidelines.

C. Disclosure with Prior Consent of the Student

In all other cases, the University will not release personally identifiable student information in education records or allow access to those records without prior consent of the student. Such consent must be written, signed and dated, and must specify the records to be disclosed, the party to whom the records are to be disclosed, and the purpose of the disclosure.

D. Records of Disclosures

The University will maintain a record of each request for access to and each disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records of each student, as well as the names of State and local educational authorities and Federal officials and agencies listed in Section 99.31(a)(3) that may make further disclosures of personally identifiable information from the student’s education records without consent under Section 99.33(b), with the education records of the student as long as the records are maintained.   For each such request or disclosure the record must include: (1) The parties who have requested or received Personally Identifiable Information from the education records; and (2) the legitimate interests the parties had in requesting or obtaining the information. The University will maintain with the student's education records a record for each disclosure request and each disclosure, except disclosures:

  1. to the student himself or herself;
  2. pursuant to the written consent of the student or the parent of a dependent student;
  3. to instructional or administrative officials of the University with a legitimate educational interest;
  4. of directory information; or
  5. to a party seeking or receiving the records as directed by a Federal grand jury or other law enforcement subpoena when the issuing court or other issuing agency has ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed.

The University will record the following information when it discloses Personally Identifiable Information from education records under the health or safety emergency exception in 34 CFR Section 99.31(a)(10) and Section 99.36:

  1. The articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals that formed the basis for the disclosure; and
  2. The parties to whom the agency or institution disclosed the information.

III. Types and Locations of Education Records

Student education records are maintained at several locations on campus. Principal locations are shown in Attachment A, together with the title of the official to be contacted for access to the records. A written request may be required. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the appropriate administrator shown in Attachment A. If the student is uncertain as to the location of a particular record, a written request should be addressed to the University Registrar, listing the item or items of interest. Only those records covered by FERPA will be made available, within forty-five days of the request. At their own expense, students may be permitted to make copies of their records. A student may review their education records, and may take notes on their contents, but may not make copies of such records if: (a) a financial, academic, or conduct "hold" has been placed on the record by an appropriate University official; (b) the records contain the name of another student; or (c) the records contain confidential information, such as exam questions or other academic materials protected by copyright.

If circumstances effectively prevent the student from exercising the right to inspect and review their records, the University will provide the student with a copy of the records requested or make alternative arrangements for the student to inspect and review the requested records.

IV. Requests to Amend Records

A student who believes that their education records are inaccurate or misleading, or that the records violate their privacy rights, may seek amendment of the records in accordance with Attachment B. [Note: The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student's work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of this right to seek amendment of education records.]  

If the outcome of a request for amendment is unsatisfactory, a student has the right to have a hearing, as set forth in Attachment B. The decision of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of a written statement summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decision, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. If the decision is in favor of the student, the education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panel. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records a statement commenting on the information in the records or a statement setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decisions of the hearing panel. The statement will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student's records, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

V. Complaints

A student who believes that the outcome of a hearing to amend their education records was unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of FERPA may, in accordance with 34 CFR Section 99.64, file a complaint with the Student Privacy Policy Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-5920, concerning alleged failures of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte to comply with FERPA. A student may request, in writing, assistance from the Chancellor in filing such a complaint.

VI. Notice

The University provides official notice to students of their rights under FERPA by publishing such notice in the UNC Charlotte Catalog and posting it at the Office of the Registrar.  

1 Note: With regard to applicants for admission, NC General Statute 132-1.1(f) provides that records maintained by UNC Charlotte that contain personally identifiable information from or about an applicant for admission shall be confidential and shall not be subject to public disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132‑6(a). However, any letter of recommendation or record containing a communication from an elected official to UNC Charlotte concerning an applicant for admission who has not enrolled as a student shall be considered a public record subject to disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132‑6(a).  

Revision History: 
  • Initially approved October 4, 1984
  • Revised April 5, 1999
  • Revised October 30, 2000
  • Revised April 9, 2001
  • Revised May 8, 2002
  • Revised July 14, 2003
  • Updated August 31, 2005
  • Revised October 19, 2006
  • Updated March 13, 2008
  • Revised May 15, 2008
  • Revised June 5, 2009
  • Updated January 31, 2011
  • Updated December 5, 2011
  • Updated March 26, 2012
  • Revised June 30, 2014
  • Updated November 7, 2017
  • Updated November 30, 2017
  • Revised September 24, 2020
  • Updated October 2, 2020
  • Updated July 19, 2021
  • Updated January 30, 2023

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office:  Institutional Integrity

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