FERPA for Faculty & Staff

FERPA and Merged Course Sections in Brightspace

FERPA Guidelines for Remote Learning

UMS Administrative Practice Letter (APL) on FERPA Guidelines

Training Materials for Protecting Student Privacy (US Dept of Ed)

The Law

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 governs the privacy of student educational records, access to records, and disclosure of them. As a university official, you are expected to understand and comply with FERPA.

Education Records

Education records are records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by the university or a party acting on behalf of the university. These records include but are not limited to grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, student financial information and student discipline files. The information may be recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, and email.

Directory Information (Public)

The University of Maine has designated certain information contained in the education records of its students as directory information for purposes of FERPA. Such directory information may be publicly shared by the University unless the student has taken formal action to restrict its release.

Directory information includes:

  • Name*
  • Mailing Address**
  • University email address
  • Program of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received (including dates)
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended
  • Participation in sports and activities
  • Class level
  • Enrollment status (full-time or part-time)
  • Appropriate personal athletic statistical data

* If a student provides a preferred/chosen name, that will be considered Directory Information instead of the legal name. The University will use/release the legal name in cases where the use of the legal name is required (e.g. State and Federal reporting, subpoenas, tax documents, etc.)

** Each student’s home address recorded at the time of admission will be, by default, used as their “Mailing Address” for Directory Information purposes until/unless they provide a separate, specific “Mailing Address”. Once a student has done so, only that address will be used for Directory Information from that point forward.

Non-Directory Information (Never share)

  • Any address other than mailing address
  • Social security number
  • Date of Birth
  • Student ID number
  • Phone number
  • Grades/exam scores
  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • Test scores (SAT, GRE, etc.)
  • Class schedule
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Citizenship/nationality
  • Gender identity
  • Religious affiliation

Disclosures by Faculty and Staff

Under FERPA UMaine personnel are permitted to disclose Directory Information from an education record to any party, at their discretion, unless a student has opted in writing to restrict that information. FERPA restricts the disclosure of all non-Directory Information (e.g. grades, ID number, financial aid awards, student conduct records, etc.) to third parties, requiring UMaine personnel to disclose such protected information only to the student themselves, and only when their identity has been confirmed.

When a student provides written consent to discuss or release non-Directory Information to one or more third parties, under FERPA UMaine personnel are then permitted to do so at their discretion. Even with written consent/authorization provided, UMaine personnel are under no obligation, and cannot be compelled, to either:

A.     Disclose any information from an education record to, or in the presence of, any third parties, even if the relevant student is present and has permitted those third parties to be present for, or speak during, a particular conversation, or

B.      Respond to any questions or comments pertaining to an education record from any third parties during any conversation.

In the case that UMaine personnel have elected to begin discussing education records in the presence of any student-authorized third parties they may, at any time, exercise their discretion and either:

A.     limit the scope of a conversation, to whatever degree they deem appropriate, in the presence of any/all third parties, or

B.      pause and/or terminate a conversation until such a time they are satisfied those persons are no longer present and/or able to hear the conversation.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation limited to your own personal observations or assessments of a student do not require consent. Letters including information from a student’s educational record, such as test scores, GPA, and assignment and class grades, require consent. A letter of recommendation release form is available here. Institutions must allow students to inspect letters unless the student has waived the right in writing.

Tips on Managing Student Records


  • Post students’ grades using any part of their social security number or MaineStreet ID.
  • Leave papers, graded exam books, or lab reports containing student names and grades in publicly accessible places. Students are not to have access to the scores and grades of others in their class.
  • Request information from the education record custodian without a legitimate educational interest and appropriate authority to do so.
  • Place any non-directory information (e.g. ID number, date of birth, etc.) in the subject line of emails. Whenever possible, avoid placing any personally identifiable information (including names) in this field.
  • Give students access to email threads (via copy, forward, or prints) containing any items of non-directory information about one or more other students. Best practice is to send stand-alone, student-specific emails to share information, rather than sharing existing threads that may contain FERPA-protected information.
  • Share education record information, including specific class schedules, grades, or grade point averages, with other faculty or staff members of the university unless their official responsibilities identify their “legitimate educational interest” in that information for that student.
  • Release GPA information for any reason (i.e. academic reference). This information is non-directory and cannot be released to anyone without a signed release from the student.
  • Give physical copies of any portion of a student’s education record (e.g. transcripts, bills, financial aid summaries, etc.) directly to any third party (e.g. parents, friends, etc.) while the student is present. Always give the document(s) directly to the student and allow them to decide whether or not to share them. 


  • Check for a FERPA indicator and for the Student Information Release in MaineStreet before discussing a student’s record or releasing any information about the student.
  • Keep only those individual student records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching and advising responsibilities.
  • Keep any personal professional records relating to individual students separate from their educational records. Private records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and ancillary education personnel are to be kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not to be accessible or revealed to any other person, except a substitute.
  • Change factual information regarding grades and performance in an education record when the student is able to provide valid documentation that the information is inaccurate or misleading. The substantive judgment of a faculty member about a student’s work, expressed in grades and/or evaluations, is not within the purview of students’ right to challenge their education records.
  • Contact the Office of Student Records for guidance and when in doubt, err on the side of caution.


FERPA recognizes the need to balance privacy and safety. In an emergency, the law permits school officials to disclose information without student consent to protect the health or safety of the student or others. The exception is limited to the period of the emergency and generally does not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable information. In the event of an imminent emergency, contact the UMaine Police Department at 207.581.4040. If you are concerned about the welfare or behavior of a student, contact the Dean of Students Office at 207.581.1406.

How Students Share Information

Students may complete the Student Consent to Release Information (PDF) form to give UMaine officials their written consent to disclose information from their educational records to specified individuals. This consent is permanent and remains in effect until the student revokes it in writing. Once the Office of Student Records receives the completed consent form, the information will be documented in MaineStreet.

Directions to View Student Consent to Release Information

Students may complete a Temporary Consent to Release Information form to grant UMaine personnel permission to discuss non-Directory information in the presence of designated individuals, such as parents or interpreters, who you have invited to join a specific meeting. This consent is limited to only that specific meeting, and may be revoked by the student at any time during that meeting.

The text provided in the Temporary Consent to Discuss Information by Phone form grants UMaine personnel a student’s written consent to temporarily discuss non-Directory information by phone. This is only valid when sent to/from the student’s official @maine.edu email address.

How Students Restrict Information

Students have the option to restrict the release of all directory information or just their address. This is referred to as a “FERPA block”. These privacy settings are controlled by the student and managed in the Student Center in MaineStreet. The FERPA block prevents release of personal information to anyone including, but not limited to, lists provided to third-party requesters under the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA), and publications such as Dean’s List and the Commencement program.

Directions to View FERPA Block Indicator