FERPA for Faculty and Staff
The Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.
Bobcat Family Portal
Bobcat Family Portal allows parents and family members to connect with their student by sending them a request to access their records. The day after the request is approved by the student, they will have access to view their information. Before you release any information about a student you must first check that the parent or family member is authorized through the Bobcat Family Portal.
Verifying Student Consent to Release Information
As Texas State faculty or staff you can log in to Bobcat Family Portal using your TXST NetID:
Once you are logged in, select the "Profile" icon at the top right:
From the drop-down menu, select "Admin" to access the admin area:
In the "Students" field, enter one of the following to search:
- Student NetID (preferred)
- Student first name
- Student last name
The student's Texas State email address will be displayed. Click on the email address to continue:
Enter the Validation PIN or the Parent/Individual's email address:
If the parent or individual on the phone provides you with a correct PIN or email, green verified boxes with information granted will appear:
If the parent or individual provides an incorrect PIN or email address, a Red Incorrect box with information will appear. You may send parents a link to reset their PIN:
Directory information is a student’s information that may be released without the consent of the student. Directory information includes the following:
- Fields of study, including major and minor
- Enrollment status (actual hours enrolled, undergraduate, graduate, etc.)
- Type of award received (academic, technical, continuing education, etc.)
- Dates of attendance
- Student classification
- Name of the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
- Telephone number
- Active, local and permanent addresses
- Weight and height of athletes
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Names of prospective graduates
- Names of parents
- Photographs of students, and
- Any other records that could be treated as directory information under FERPA
What information of a student’s record may I not release?
The lists include, but are not limited to, the following:
- If the student has placed a “Privacy Hold” on their record you may not release any information, including directory information.
- You may not share protected course materials which include class discussions or any record that may reveal a student's identity to others outside the class. This includes sharing class recordings which reveal a students' identities with future classes.
What information of a student’s record may I release?
The lists include, but are not limited to, the following:
- If the student does not have a “Privacy Hold” on their record you may release directory information only. Items such as Social Security Number, GPA, grades and email addresses are not directory information.
- If a student has provided consent via the Bobcat Family Portal you may release student education records specified by the student to a person designated by the student.
- You may release information from a student's education records without the student’s written consent to other school officials at Texas State with legitimate educational interests in the records and to the parents of a dependent student.
- You may share class recordings that include class discussions or which reveal a students' identities with members of the class only.
Campus Best Practices
Obtaining consent from students
Once a student begins attending an institution of post-secondary education, all privacy rights move to that student (away from the parents). The general principle is that student education records are considered confidential and may not be released to third parties (including parents) without the written consent of the student.
Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of information that make up part of the student's education record. This information is protected under FERPA and the parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s).
The public posting of grades either by the student's name, student identification number or Social Security number, without the student's written permission, is a violation of FERPA even if the names are obscured. Consider using Canvas or university tools with built-in security mechanisms.
Returning graded papers and assignments
Distributing graded work in a way that exposes the student's identity or leaving personally identifiable graded papers unattended is no different from posting grades publicly. If the papers contain "personally identifiable" information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA. Using readily available tools (e.g., Canvas) to distribute grades or graded papers should be given first consideration.
Sending grades to students
Emailing grades or posting grades on a web site that is open to public access or in a way that exposes individual grades to other class members is not acceptable. The preferred method for communicating about grades is through Canvas, a system designed for FERPA compliance.
If the information needed is other than directory information and if the school determines that the information needed is necessary to protect or aid in the safety or the health of the student or any other person you may release that information. Consult with your director and/or chair should this situation arise before releasing the information.
Letters of recommendation
Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the "education record" (grades, GPA and other non-directory information) or is an assessment of student performance, such as the student's rank in the class. Statements made from personal observation or knowledge do not require a signed release.
Frequently Asked Questions Can I provide parents with their son/daughter's grades or attendance information?
No, unless the student has signed a written consent authorizing release of the information to the parents. You my direct the parents to request access from their son/daughter via the Bobcat Family Portal.
Should I store student records (i.e. grade information) on my computer?
No, you should never store student records or any confidential information on your desktop or the hard drive of your system. All student confidential information should be saved to a secure server.
Should I store personal records about a student in the student's file folder?
Yes, you may. But you should realize that once information is stored in a file related to the student that is accessible by anyone but yourself or a temporary substitute, it becomes part of that student's educational record even if it is a personal note for your viewing only. And since it is part of the educational record, the student can request to inspect the file.
May I provide a class roster of students registered in my class?
No, class rosters and a student's schedule are not considered directory information and therefore, should not be given to third parties.
May I post non-directory information on CANVAS for my class to view (i.e. attendance records, grades, etc.)?
No, you may not post non-directory information on CANVAS for all students to view. When handling non-directory information such as grades and attendance records, you must post this type of information to each student individually.
Where would I find additional information about FERPA?
Any additional questions or comments regarding FERPA may be directed to the Office of the University Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 245-2367.