Penn State Mark

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:

  • On the ISIS system, review the student's academic record using screen ARUSPD. The word "**CONFIDENTIAL**" in the upper left hand corner of the screen indicates that a student has requested that directory information not be released.
  • Users of the University Data Warehouse should look for the presence of an asterisk (*) in the student's last name data field. The asterisk indicates that the student has requested that directory information not be released.
  • On the ISIS system, pull up the student using last name on the student lookup screen AMIA. An asterisk (*) immediately to the left of the student's name (in the CONF column) indicates that the student has requested that directory information not be released.
  • eLion adviser screens display a message in the screen header for students who've requested that their directory information not be released.
  • eLion faculty class list denotes students who have requested that directory information not be released with an asterisk (*) preceding their name.
  • eLion advising rosters denote students who have requested that directory information not be released with a "Y" after the name column.
  • ANGEL class rosters flag those students who've 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.