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Student Confidentiality

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment) is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and identifies the rights of students with respect to their education records kept by institutions. As part of the requirements of FERPA, the University has a policy on Confidentiality of Student Records (policy AD-11). Faculty and staff have access to student records for "legitimate educational interests" necessary to carry out their job responsibilities.

Under FERPA, institutions must not release education records without prior written consent from the student. However, FERPA identifies a category of information as "directory information," which institution may release without student permission unless the student has blocked disclosure of such information. The list of items Penn State has designated as "directory information" can be found on the Registrar's Office website.

If you are asked for information about a student by anyone external to the University, even if it's simply directory information, you must first check to see if the student has blocked disclosure:

  • In LionPATH, a FERPA alert night shade icon can be viewed on most pages of a student's account in the Student Center to indicate that the student has requested that directory information not be released.
  • In LionPATH, a FERPA alert night shade icon can be viewed on most pages of a student's account in Advisor Center > Student Center to indicate that the student has requested that directory information not be released.
  • Canvas class rosters flag those students who have requested that directory information not be released with an asterisk (*) on the People page.
  • ANGEL class rosters flag those students who have requested that directory information not be released with a "**CONFIDENTIAL**" notation.

If a student has blocked disclosure of directory information, you must respond to the requestor that we have no record of the person. You may not even acknowledge the fact that the person is or ever was a Penn State student.

For questions about FERPA or student confidentiality, please contact the Office of the University Registrar or visit the Registrar's website.