FERPA Resources

FERPA can be confusing at times. We created this page to provide you with resources to better understand and uphold FERPA as it pertains to your professional responsibilities at Oregon State University.

FERPA tips for Instructors/Teaching Faculty

FERPA release template: This can be used by departments for releases for letters of recommendation, job references, et. al. These should be customized for and retained by the department.

Audio and Visual Recording in an Education Setting

Instructional Use of Social Media Policy

EdSurge article: The Unintentional Ways Schools Might Be Violating FERPA

Resources will be added periodically. If there's something you'd like to see here, please contact us!

  • class rosters
  • student course schedule/enrollment in courses
  • graded assignments (in any medium)
  • emails exchanged with a student concerning their academic progress (i.e. in a class, as an advisee)
  • card swipe data (e.g. in advising offices, at campus events)
  • signed ESET data
  • field site/internship evaluations for experiences done for course credit
  • advising notes
  • clicker data
  • student registration holds
  • student ID photos
  • audio or video of students participating in a class activity

Audio and Visual Recording in an Education Setting

FERPA protects the privacy of students education records.

Education records are defined as records that are: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution. A/V recordings made in an education settings meet this definition.

This decision tree is intended to assist the OSU community in determining whether consent of the students is required prior to the recording and whether the Office of the Registrar and/or the Institutional Review Board must review the project.

Details Related to the Decision Points

Any institution that receives federal funds from the DoE, which is most institutions of higher and secondary/elementary education, is subject to FERPA. The institution includes spaces that may be beyond the campus or regularly designated space of the institution. For example, prior consent of students must be obtained if recordings of fieldwork will be made or used for research purposes. Review and approval must be sought from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Office of the Registrar (OtR).

Any student who is captured in a recording in some way is protected by FERPA. Plans to segregate students, blur captured images, or omit data from recordings taken of non-consenting students miss the point of requiring informed consent.

If yes, researchers will need to fill out a data feasibility form for the OtR and submit an application to the IRB.

Audio and video recordings of students in an education setting cannot be used for purposes other than evaluation and assessment without prior informed consent from each student in the setting. Student participation must be voluntary and their decision not to participate must be respected. Students may choose not to participate for a variety of reasons and those reasons need not be shared with the researchers. Strategies to avoid recording students who do not want to be recorded disrupt the learning experience, do not uphold the principle of respect for persons, and fail to adequately address the requirements under FERPA. 

Student consent may also be required when recordings are intended for non-research purposes but may result in disclosure of student education information to parties outside of the institutional setting. Contact the Office of the Registrar for more details.

When recordings are strictly for internal evaluation, assessment, or to improve services or instruction, consent may not be required. Please contact the OtR via data request for a determination.

If these recordings are not used for research, nor are they for assessment, evaluation, or services improvement reasons, please contact the IRB and OtR to ensure no further oversight is required.

OSU Office of the Registrar:  http://registrar.oregonstate.edu/

OSU Human Research Protection Program & IRB Office:  http://research.oregonstate.edu/irb

Data request form: http://bit.ly/OtR_data

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Ask the FERPA Professor:  https://www.aacrao.org/resources/newsletters-blogs/aacrao-connect/article/ask-the-ferpa-professor-5-30-2017

University of Wisconsin - Madison IRB Guidance: Video Recording in Campus Classrooms:  https://kb.wisc.edu/sbsedirbs/page.php?id=42377

Instructional Use of Social Media Policy

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) outlines the protections of a student’s education record. This includes any graded work completed as a part of the student’s registration in a course. Courses that use social media or other online tools for course engagement must either: a) create an environment only accessible by those in the class, b) obtain student consent to display identifying information about the student and their enrollment in the course or c) anonymize the student’s enrollment in the course.

**Note:  FERPA violations involve releasing education data that is not considered directory information. E.g., You write the name of the course on a blog and ask students to post on the blog—this displays that a student is enrolled in the course, which is protected data under FERPA. This would not be acceptable unless students consent to having their names appear on the course blog. However, you may remove the name of the course on the blog and ask students to post on the blog. Note that any student with a confidential flag cannot be expected to use their name for course work that will appear publicly.

Methods for obtaining consent:

In your course syllabus, note that the course will engage with online tools that may display the name of the course, the University, and/or student name(s). Ask students to provide consent to determine if they would like to participate in the public forum. If there is no way for students to participate without consenting to release their education data, the use of the tool is not permitted. Students cannot be penalized for refusing to consent.

Other ways to use online tools without obtaining student consent:
  • Create a private environment that will not be accessible to those not registered for the course.
  • Ask students to create a pseudonym at the beginning of the term that only you will know.
  • Remove any course and University designation from the page, group, hashtag, et. al.
  • Ask students to turn in their submissions to the site, forum, or other online tool directly to you.