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Education records include those records (except those noted in the third paragraph* of this section), in any medium, directly related to a student and maintained by UW–Madison, a UW–Madison school official, or by a party acting for the institution. Education records are stored by the Office of the Registrar and many other offices around campus. Education records include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Documents with a student’s name and ID number
- Class rosters
- Grade lists
- Employment records if employment is conditioned on being an enrolled student
- Disciplinary records
- Student information displayed on a computer screen.
Education records include certain records which students do not have the right to inspect and review. Those records include, but are not limited to, financial records of a parent; and confidential letters and statements of recommendation for admission, employment, or honorary recognition which the student has waived the right to inspect and review.
*Education records do not include:
- Personal notes of UW–Madison faculty and staff that are kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other person
- Medical and counseling records available only to health-care practitioners for treatment purposes
- Records created and maintained by University Police for law enforcement purposes
- Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor
- Alumni records
- Observable behavior.
Legitimate educational interest
Legitimate educational interest — also referred to as educational “need to know” — means a school official needs to review information in an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
FERPA allows UW–Madison school officials to 1) access a student’s education record if they have a legitimate educational interest and 2) share a student’s education record information with other UW–Madison school officials who have a legitimate educational interest. This does not constitute authorization for that person to transmit, share, or disclose any of that information to third parties.
In addition, as detailed in the campus Restricted Administrative Data Policy, authorized users of restricted data — in this case, student education records — “may access said data only to fulfill the job duties for which authorization was granted. Further, an authorized user may not access restricted data for personal use.”
A school official is a person who serves UW–Madison in an administrative, supervisory, academic, assessment, or support staff position, including but not limited to UW–Madison law enforcement personnel, health staff, certain appropriate student employees, and field supervisors. This definition also includes a person or company with whom UW–Madison has outsourced institutional services or functions, such as a contractor, consultant, or volunteer; a person serving on an official UW–Madison committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee; or a person legitimately authorized to assist another UW–Madison school official in performing their professional UW–Madison responsibilities.
Under FERPA, a student is any individual for whom an educational institution maintains education records. The term “student” does not include an individual who has not been in attendance at the institution. At UW–Madison, this means anyone who is currently or was ever enrolled for classes at and attended UW–Madison. FERPA coverage begins on the first day of the first term for which students have enrolled for classes. As such, FERPA does not apply to prospective students, applicants, or admitted students until they become an enrolled student in attendance, as specified above.
FERPA also specifies that, for students of universities and other institutions of postsecondary education, FERPA rights apply to eligible students rather than parents, regardless of the age of the student.