FERPA Faculty Guidelines

St. Olaf College
December 2009

Posting of Grades by Faculty
The public posting of grades either by the student’s name, institutional student identification number, social security number, or any other means that would make the identity of the student easily traceable, without the student’s written permission is prohibited, whether done via paper source or via electronic means (including the World Wide Web). Instructors and others who post grades should use a system that ensures students’ grades and other education records remain confidential. This can be done by using code words or randomly assigned numbers only the instructor and individual students know.

References for Students by Faculty
The prohibition on disclosure of personally identifiable information from an education record of a student applies to any kind of recorded non-directory information (e.g., performance in class, grades, attitude, motivation, abilities, background). Although references are often conveyed by faculty members at the informal request of the student and are usually positive, faculty should not provide any reference (positive or negative) unless the student first either waives his/her right to access or authorizes the reference in writing by using the College’s written consent form. In the first case, the student must complete two (2) copies of the waiver form and give one to the Registrar’s Office and one to the faculty member providing the reference; this second copy must be retained by the instructor or designee within the department/program. In the second case, two (2) copies of the consent form PLUS all information disclosed to any third party must be made; one must be given to the Registrar’s Office and the other is to be retained by the faculty member or designee within the department/program. The consent form includes the following: the request for disclosures, the student’s written consent, the name of any individual or entity to whom disclosures were made, and the date of the disclosures.

Students’ Rights After Ceasing Attendance or Graduating
Students who have ceased attendance or have graduated from St. Olaf College have basically the same FERPA rights as current students, including the right to:

  • inspect their education records
  • have a hearing to amend an education record, and
  • prevent disclosure of their education records unless otherwise authorized by FERPA.

Once a student leaves St. Olaf College he/she does not have the right to prevent disclosure of any directory information which the College was previously authorized to disclose.  Furthermore, information about the student which is obtained after he or she is no longer a student is not subject to FERPA’s restrictions.

Retention and Disposal of Student Educational Records
Under FERPA, exams, papers, and grade books are educational records.  The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) recommends the following retention schedule:

  • Exams/graded course work:  one (1) year after course completion (if the work is not returned to the student)
  • Faculty’s grade books:  five (5) years after course completion

(AACRAO’s Retention of Records: Guide for Retention and Disposal of Student Records.  Washington D.C.: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 2010.)

Faculty who leave the College are responsible for leaving St. Olaf student academic records with the department/program academic administrative assistant (AAA) (paper records) or on a protected department/program (electronic records) shared drive accessible by the AAA.

The St. Olaf Academic Catalog specifies that students have one year after the posting of the grade to notify the Office of the Registrar and Academic Advising of a grade error on the transcript.

Information about individuals should be retained only so long as it is valid and useful. Those responsible for academic information have an obligation to destroy information when conditions under which it was collected no longer prevail. Any document containing personally identifiable information must be disposed of properly through some means of confidential disposal (shredding). If you need information on confidential disposal, you can call the Registrar’s Office at x3015.

These are interpretive guidelines only. For further detail or specific questions, please call the Registrar’s Office at x3015.