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Guidelines for Release of Student Records

NO information may be released about students who have established privacy/confidentiality of their records.

Release of student records at Portland State University is governed by federal law (FERPA), the Oregon Revised Statutes, and by the Oregon Administrative Rules.

The following steps provide a simple means to determine what information may be released. Release of any information other than that listed in Step 3 may have serious legal implications. If you receive a request for information other than what is covered in these steps, refer the inquirer to the Office of the Registrar. Refer ALL inquiries under the USA PATRIOT Act to the Office of the Registrar at 503-725-3511.

All access and use at Portland State University of a student's Social Security Number is prohibited except for meeting federal or state requirements, compliance, and reporting. A student's PSU ID number should be used for all other recordkeeping purposes.

You may copy these guidelines as needed. We suggest that you keep a copy by your telephone for ready reference.

Step 1

Check the confidentiality of the student's records. Has the student restricted the release of all information by exerting the right to privacy/confidentiality?

  1. View the grade roster or class roster. If the word "Confidential" appears next to the student's name, his/her personal information is to be kept confidential.
  2. Sign on to Banner and go to SGASTDN or SPAIDEN screens. Enter the student's PSU ID number. If this student's information is confidential, the first time you open the student's record in Banner a pop-up message will appear saying“Warning: Information About This Person is Confidential." All subsequent screens will show *CONFIDENTIAL* in the upper left portion of the form. This will also appear on SAAADMS, SFAREGS, SFASRPO, SHATERM, SPAPERS, and other forms that access the student's record.
  3. If you do not have access to Banner, ask someone with access to check the student's record for you, or call the Office of the Registrar for help (503-725-3511).

Step 2

If the student's record is CONFIDENTIAL, you must respond to the inquiry in a way that does not acknowledge the student's existence on campus. An example, "There is no information available on that person". If the person inquiring persists, you may suggest that he/she ask the student in question to contact the Office of the Registrar directly, or refer the caller to the Office of the Registrar.

Step 3

If the student's records are NOT confidential, then determine what information about the student is being requested. Portland State University may provide only the following directory information without students' written consent:

  • Student's name
  • Current mailing address
  • Current telephone number
  • Current e-mail address
  • Dates of attendance
  • Major or minor field of study
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Date(s) of degree(s)
  • Number of credits earned, including class standing (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • Fact of enrollment, including whether the student is enrolled full-time or part-time
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Step 4

If anything other than the above information is requested, the request should be denied. Refer all inquiries from law enforcement officials directly to the Office of the Registrar. If there are other unusual and extraordinary circumstances, refer the request to:

Office of the Registrar
104 Neuberger Hall
724 SW Harrison Street
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
503-725-3511

NO information may be released about students who have established privacy/confidentiality of their records.

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Directory Information at PSU

Student's name

CONSIDERED TO BE PUBLIC RECORD. MAY RELEASE TO ANY INQUIRY UNLESS RECORD IN BANNER IS MARKED CONFIDENTIAL

Current mailing address

Current telephone number

Current E-mail address

Dates of Attendance

Major or Minor field of study

Degrees and Awards Received

Date(s) of Degree(s)

Number of credits earned, including class standing (i.e., freshman, sophomore, etc.)

Fact of enrollment, including whether student is full-time or part-time

Participation in officially recognized activities and sports

Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Non-Directory Information. This information is protected.

Student's Gender

MAY NOT BE RELEASED.

IF THERE ARE UNUSUAL AND EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES REFER THE REQUEST TO

OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR
104 NEUBERGER HALL 
503-725-3511

Transcript: Official or unofficial

Transcript: Student copy

Social Security Number 
(complete or partial)

PSU Student ID Number 
(whether SSN or generated ID) 
All access and use at Portland State University of the Social Security Number is prohibited except for meeting federal or state requirements, compliance and reporting.

Grades earned

Graduation status; course work yet to be completed (Cannot report whether student has applied for graduation)

Residency status

Fees paid

Class rank

Current academic status (probation; suspension; petitions; readmit status. That a student has applied can be released, but the status of the application cannot be released.)

VA, Social Security Status

GPA (Grade Point Average)

Class schedule

Parent or guardian name or address

All other information about a student

These policy guidelines are in accordance with Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS 351.065) and 20 U.S.C. section 1232g, the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (PL 93-380) [34 CFR Part 99], and Oregon Administrative Rule 577-030-0005.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it legal for me to e-mail my class about class assignments and other work?

A: Yes, the use of registered students' PSU e-mail addresses is acceptable for academic and educational purposes even if the student has elected confidentiality. If you plan to make electronic communication a part of class requirements, be sure to include that information in the course syllabus that every student receives. Students who do not want to use e-mail for their class work need to be aware of the requirement so that they can adjust their schedule accordingly or make appropriate accommodation. In some cases, instructors find it useful to set up a listserv for their class that masks individually identifiable email addresses. Information about setting up a listserv may be found on the Office of Infomation Technologies online support site at www.pdx.edu/oit/mailing-lists.

Q: Doesn't it violate FERPA if I include confidential students (students who have established confidentiality of their records) in a mass e-mail to all of my students?

A: No. According to recent clarifications, electing the confidentiality option does not include a right to remain anonymous in class and may not be used to impede routine classroom communications and interactions, whether class is held on campus or online. When you send e-mail to a list of students, using their individual email addresses in the "To:" line everyone can see all of the members on the list. FERPA allows you to share the PSU email of students registered in your class, amongst class members.

If it is not important to you that the students in class know each others e-mail you may want to exclude confidential students from the list. After excluding them from the group list, you may send an individual e-mail, with the same content, addressed only to the confidential student. If you have more than one confidential student, you can send an individual e-mail to each one of them, separately. An alternative method is to include the confidential emails via blind copy ("bcc:").

Q: May I post grades?

A: You may post grades as long as only you and the individual student knows who the grade is for. That is, you cannot use the students' names or their Student ID numbers. You can create a unique identifier (such as a number, NOT part of the Student ID number) for each of your students and post grades by that identifier. Be sure NOT to arrange the list in alphabetical order, even though the names are not printed. (NOTE: Do not pass a sign-up sheet around the class asking students to write down their unique identifier. All of the students who see the list will have access to the identifiers of other students.)

Q: May I distribute students' graded exams and papers by putting them in a self-serve box so that students can easily pick up their papers?

A: NO. Distributing students' exams and papers in this way violates their confidentiality by making protected records available to the public. This is not an acceptable practice.

Q: What information may I give to parents who want to know how their student is doing -- what the grade is in a particular class, or what the overall GPA is? What if the parents say they know their student got a D- and want to know what can be done?

A: You cannot discuss any specifics about the student's grades. Use a conditional response: "If a student in my class earned a D-, I would suggest..." You also can advise the parent on how the student can access grades via banweb (online student information system) or by requesting a transcript from the Office of the Registrar. Remember to first check for records confidentiality before talking with parents or family members. If the student's record is CONFIDENTIAL, you must respond to the inquiry in a way that does not acknowledge the student's existence on campus.

Q: What information may I give if the student is a dependent and the parent can prove it with tax records?

A: While federal law authorizes the release of records to parents of dependent students, it does not require it. The Oregon public records law however, prohibits release of non-directory information to parents of dependent students. Unless written permission is obtained from the student, non-directory information may not be released to parents of dependent or independent students.

Q: What information may be given if the student is no longer enrolled?

A: Only the same information as if the person were still enrolled as a student. Be sure to check whether the student had imposed confidentiality before leaving the university; if so, the confidentiality remains in effect.

Q: What information may be given if the student is deceased?

A: When a student dies, FERPA no longer applies, but since there may be other issues related to disclosure, the inquiry should be referred to the Office of the Registrar.

Q: What if the caller is the Portland police, the FBI, Homeland Security, or a representative of a government agency?

A: A student's permission is required to release their records to these representatives, except in cases of emergency. Refer the caller to the Office of the Registrar.

Q: What if the Portland police, the FBI, or a representative of a government agency only want the student's class schedule?

A: Class schedules are not directory information and may not be released. FERPA restrictions apply equally to law enforcement officials. Do not release the class schedule; refer the caller to the Office of the Registrar.

Q: What if the FBI or federal agent says she needs information about a student under the new anti-terrorism legislation?

A: The USA PATRIOT Act (2001) and other legislation specify guidelines for release of information. Refer all such inquiries to ARR to ensure appropriate compliance.

Q: What information about a student may I include in a letter of recommendation or in a job reference via telephone?

A: Statements made based on personal observation or knowledge do not require a written release from the student. For example, without referencing her student record you might say, "She was very involved in departmental activities, she was congenial and well-liked, and passionate about the field of study." You also may include information provided to you by the student, such as information from his/her resume.

However, inclusion of specific information obtained from a student's education record (grades, GPA, etc.) requires a signed release from the student that (1) specifies the records that may be disclosed, (2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identifies the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure can be made. Click here for the Student Consent for Letters of Recommendation form.

For example, without a signed release you cannot say, "She was the only student to earn 100 on my final exam, and she has a 4.0 GPA."

Q: Do students have the right to read letters of recommendation that I write on their behalf?

A: If you keep a copy of the letter on file, it is considered part of the student's education record and the student has the right to read it unless he or she has waived the right of access. Click here for the Student Waiver of Access to Letters of Recommendation form.

Q: Do students have the right to read letters of recommendation submitted as part of their admission process or scholarship/award application?

A: Students have the right of access to letters of recommendation that reside in their application files unless they have signed a voluntary waiver of these rights. Departments receiving letters of recommendation for program admission, scholarships, or awards that do not want to release letters written in confidence about students should: a) retain the waiver of access in the student's file along with the letter or, b) in the absence of a waiver, return the confidential letter to the writer, or request that the writer resubmit the letter under the condition that it may be released to the student. NOTE: All access waivers and revocation of waivers must be received in writing and be dated and signed by the student. Click here for the Student Waiver of Access to Letters of Recommendation form.

Q: Are the employment records of student employees considered protected education records?

A: This depends on the answer to one question: is the employee required to have student status to be eligible for the job? If NO, as in the case of regular university employees, who may or may not be students taking classes, the answer is NO. Employment records (i.e. performance evaluations, attendance, salary and other HR types of records) which relate exclusively to individuals in their capacity as employees are not considered to be education records and thus are not subject to FERPA rules and regulations. If YES, as in the case of work study students or graduate assistants, then the answer is YES, their employment records are considered education records. Records of individuals in attendance at an institution who are employed as a result of their status as students are education records, and are subject to the full protection of FERPA.

Q: May I give a job reference or letter of recommendation for a student employee whose employment records are considered education records?

A: Yes you may, as long as you remember that such things as performance evaluations, records of attendance, salary information, and other HR records are protected information and cannot be released without written consent from the student. You may however, provide information based on your personal observation and knowledge without a written release. For example, without referencing the student's employment record you might say, "She was reliable and well-liked, and always had a positive attitude." Without a written release you cannot say, "Her last performance rating was 'needs improvement', and she had 20 unexcused absences."

It is recognized that the line distinguishing protected employment records from information based on personal observation and knowledge can be blurry. For that reason, it is recommended that you ask all student employees who ask you for a job reference or letter of recommendation to sign a written consent allowing you to release all information related to their employment and job performance. Click here for the Student Consent for Letters of Recommendation form.

Q: The student organization that I advise wants to invite all students declaring "X" ethnicity to their meeting. May they get a list of all "X" ethnicity students along with their addresses?

A: Although ethnicity is not directory information, and thus cannot be released generally to members of student groups, we may release the information to a Portland State faculty/staff sponsor of the group. The sponsoring faculty/staff member is responsible for ensuring that the information is used correctly for the limited purposes described, that it is protected from unauthorized release, and that it is eventually destroyed in a secure manner after it has been used. Under supervision of the sponsoring faculty/staff member, students may have access to the data to complete the tasks related to the described purpose. It is important that the sponsor educate each student working with the data about the requirements to protect the information and keep it private.

Q: What if someone requests a list of all of the students from "X" country?

A: Refer all such requests to the Office of the Registrar.

Q: A student in my class is at home ill, so her sister stopped by to pick up her recently graded mid-term exam. Is it OK to give it to her so that she may deliver it to my student?

A: NO. The mid-term exam and grade is not directory information and may not be released to anyone but the student.

Q: A community organization that I belong to wants to sell exam week care packets to parents; our organization will then deliver them to the students. May we get a list of parents' names and addresses?

A: NO. Parents' names and addresses are not directory information and may not be released.

Updated: June 2009

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