The University of Alabama at Birmingham student records policy complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. All students enrolled or previously enrolled at UAB have certain rights with regard to information included in their education records. These rights are the subject of this policy.
I. General Policy
Information from records, files, or other data that is directly related to a student, other than public information, defined below, shall be disclosed to individuals or agencies outside the university only with the written consent of the student, unless a disclosure is made pursuant to one of the exceptions set forth in article IX, below.
An education record is defined as any records, files, documents, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by UAB or a party acting for UAB.
Not included in the definition of an education record, and not subject to FERPA, are:
- records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel, which are in the sole possession of the maker and accessible only to the maker or a substitute;
- records of the University Police that are maintained separately from educational records, are maintained solely for purposes of law enforcement, and are not disclosed to individuals other than law enforcement personnel of the same jurisdiction;
- records that are made or maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or other recognized professionals or paraprofessionals, and which are made, maintained and used for the purpose of treatment of a student, and are available to another person only for the purpose of treatment of the student;
- records that contain information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student.
III. Definition of Student
A student is defined as any individual currently or previously enrolled in any academic offering of UAB. This definition does not include prospective students.
IV. The Education Record
The student education record includes directory and non-directory information. Both types reveal personal information about a student.
Directory information is information that may be disclosed by the university without prior consent of the student and which is considered part of the public record of the student's attendance. Although it is personal student information, information that is directory is regarded as the type of information that might be found in a directory or yearbook, the disclosure of which would not be considered an invasion of a student's privacy. Directory information includes a student's name, address (local and permanent) telephone number, e-mail address (e.g., blazerID@uab.edu), date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the name of the most recently attended institution, and a photograph of the student. Directory information will not be disclosed if a student elects to "opt out", by sending a written request for non-disclosure to the appropriate records official, prior to the end of the registration period.
Non-directory information is distinguishable from directory information in that it personally identifies the student but cannot be released by the university absent the consent of the student, legal process or an applicable FERPA exception permits the release. Non-directory information includes information that is not public in nature, such as grades, social security number, student number, and other information that would make the student personally identifiable.
V. Types and Location of Records
All schools within the university maintain a file on each student enrolled, which may include applications, grade reports or other performance evaluations and correspondence. Some departments or programs maintain similar files. The counseling service, career services, and financial aid offices maintain a file on students who use those services. The university has designated the following officials as responsible for student records within their respective areas: University Registrar, Room 207, Hill University Center; Director of Student Affairs, School of Dentistry, Room 207, School of Dentistry Building; Assistant Director/Registrar, School of Medicine, Room P100, Volker Hall; and Director of Student Affairs, School of Optometry, Room 104, School of Optometry Building. The persons who occupy these positions are designated as "records officials", each of whom is responsible for maintaining, for his/her area, a listing of student records and the location and general content of the records. Any student request concerning records or files, including requests that public information not be disclosed, requests for disclosure to third parties and requests for access by the student should be directed to this official. Forms for all such requests may be obtained from these officials. These persons will also act as hearing officers when the content of a record is challenged, as provided below.
VI. Student Review of Education Records
Students shall have the right to review the contents of their education records, in the presence of a university staff member. To inspect his/her record, a student should go to the office of the appropriate records official to initiate a written request. If a student is unable to personally appear to inspect his/her record, a written, notarized request for inspection must be submitted to the records official. The time set for inspection shall be within 45 days of the date of the written request. If the records official concludes that inspection and review of the record can be accomplished only by providing a copy to the student, the record will be copied and provided to the student, upon receipt of the actual cost of copying the record.
The right of inspection does not include financial statements of parents, confidential recommendations placed in the file prior to January 1, 1975—provided such recommendations were solicited with a written assurance of confidentiality or sent or retained with a documented understanding of confidentiality and used only for the purpose intended—and other confidential recommendations, access to which has been waived by the student in accordance with paragraph VIII.
VII. Challenging the Contents of the Record
UAB will respond to any reasonable request for an explanation or interpretation of an item in a student's education record. Requests for such explanation or interpretation should be addressed, in writing, to the appropriate records official. If, after inspecting a record, a student believes that information contained in the educational record is inaccurate or misleading or violates his or her privacy, the student may request that the record be amended by presenting a written request to the appropriate records official.
A request that the record be amended will be answered by the records official within 45 days of its receipt and will indicate whether the request for the amendment is granted or denied. If denied, the student has a right to a hearing on the matter. A written request for a hearing must be addressed to the appropriate records official, referenced in Section V. The records official will set a date and time for the hearing, within 30 days of having received the request, and will provide reasonable notice to the student.
The request for a hearing should identify the item or items in the file being challenged and state the grounds for the challenge, e.g., inaccuracy, misleading nature, inappropriateness. The records official will examine the contested item, hear the person responsible for placing the item in the file, if appropriate, and will examine any documents or hear any testimony the student wishes to present. A student may be assisted or represented by individuals of his or her choice, including an attorney, at his or her own expense. The records official may decide that the item should be retained or that it should be deleted or altered, and will issue a written decision, based solely on the evidence presented, within 10 days of the conclusion of the hearing. If the decision is adverse to the student, the notice of decision will include a statement that the student has the right to place a statement in the record commenting on the information and/or setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision.
VIII. Waiver of Access
UAB may request that a student waive his/her right to inspect and review confidential recommendations in the education record. Such recommendations may concern the student's application for admission, employment or honors. A student who elects to sign a waiver of access may, upon request, receive notice of the names of all those providing recommendations, that the recommendations are used only for the purpose solicited, and that the waiver is neither a condition of admission nor shall it affect the receipt of any other benefit. A waiver may be revoked, in writing, with respect to material sought subsequent to the revocation.
IX. Disclosure of Education Records to Third Parties
The general policy of UAB is not to provide access to student education record information to third parties, absent the written consent of the student. Should a student wish to have his/her education record information released, a written request, signed and dated, must be directed to the proper records official, specifying the records to be released, the reason for release, and the party or class of parties to whom records are to be released. By written request, a student may obtain a copy of the records released.
The information transferred shall include a statement that the information may be used by the receiving party or, if an organization, by its officers, agents, and employees, only for the purpose(s) requested, and that the receiving party shall not transfer the information to any other party, except with the written consent of the student. A charge, not greater than the actual cost of reproduction, will be assessed against the student when copies are made for the party or for the student.
FERPA provides a number of exceptions to the rule requiring consent for the disclosure of personally identifiable information from student records. Disclosure of personally identifiable information from an education record may occur, without the written consent of the student, pursuant to the following exceptions (see FERPA Regulations, §99.31):
- School officials with a legitimate educational interest. A "school official" may include:
- A person employed by UAB in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position, including but not limited to law enforcement unit personnel, health staff and in-house attorneys;
- Contractors, consultants, volunteers or other outside parties with whom the UAB has contracted or delegated certain educationally-related functions to provide service under retainer or agreement, including but not limited to collection agency, outsourced service company, agent, attorney, auditor, etc.;
- A person serving on the Board of Trustees;
- A student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his/her tasks.
"Legitimate educational interest" is defined as any authorized interest or activity undertaken in the name of UAB for which access to an education record is necessary or appropriate to the proper performance of the undertaking. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if, in the judgment of the individual/office responsible for the requested information, the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. The information sought and provided must be pertinent to and used within the context of official UAB business and not for a purpose extraneous to the official's area of responsibility.
Release of a student's education record to a school official having legitimate educational interest does not constitute institutional authorization to transmit, share, or disclose any or all of the information to a third party, whether within or outside the UAB.
- Officials of other schools in which a student seeks to enroll. UAB will make a reasonable attempt to notify the student of the transfer, as well as the student's right to request a copy of the documents disclosed.
- Authorized representatives of certain federal departments or agencies, and state and local educational authorities, as provided by law.
- State and local officials to whom disclosure of information is allowed by state statute and concerns the juvenile justice system and the system's ability to effectively serve the student.
- Financial aid officers or their staff in connection with the application for or receipt of financial aid, provided that personally identifiable information may only be disclosed for the purpose of determining eligibility, amount, and conditions and to enforce terms and conditions.
- Organizations conducting studies for administrative evaluation, tests, etc., provided that studies are not conducted in a manner that would permit personal identification of students or their parents by anyone other than representatives of the organization, and that the information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes collected.
- Accrediting organizations.
- Parents of a student, as defined in §99.3, who is a dependent, as defined by §152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
- Compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. The university will make a reasonable effort to provide notice to the student or parent, in advance of the release of educational information, unless the disclosure without notice is authorized by law. Notwithstanding the above, if a student or their parent initiates a legal claim or otherwise takes any adversarial position against the University, the University may disclose to the court or other entity that has authority to take specific action against the University, the student's education records that are necessary for the University to defend itself.
- The disclosure is deemed appropriate in connection with a health or safety emergency to protect students or others. In determining appropriateness of disclosure, consideration will be given to the seriousness of the threat to health or safety of the student and others, the need for information to meet the emergency, whether the parties requesting information are in a position to deal with the emergency, and the extent to which time is of the essence.
- The disclosure is directory information, as defined in this policy.
- The disclosure is to the parent of one who is not an eligible student or to the student.
- The disclosure is to the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense. Such disclosure shall be limited to the final disposition of the university's inquiry into the alleged act(s).
- Disclosure of the result of a disciplinary proceeding provided the student is alleged to have been the perpetrator of a violent crime or a non-forcible sex offense and the alleged act is a violation of a university rule or policy. Such disclosure may not reveal the identity of other students without their written consent.
- Disclosure to the parent of a student concerning the violation of any federal, state or local law, or any rule or policy of the university, governing the use of alcohol or a controlled substance, provided the university has determined the student committed the alleged act and the student is less than 21 years of age at the time the disclosure to the parent is made.
- The disclosure concerns sex offenders and others required to register under §170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. §14071, and the information was provided to the university under §14071 and applicable Federal guidelines.
The University may include in the education record information concerning disciplinary action taken against a student for conduct that poses a significant threat to the safety or wellbeing of the student, other students and/or other members of the university community. This information may be disclosed to university officials and officials at other educational institutions who have a legitimate educational interest in the student's conduct.
UAB will keep a record, indicating the name and legitimate interest of all disclosures from a student's education record, except those made to the student, those made pursuant to written consent, those designated as public information, and those made to persons at UAB with a legitimate educational interest. This record of disclosure will become a part of the educational record, subject to inspection and review.
The UAB Student Records Policy shall be published in the online catalog of each school, and a copy shall be displayed prominently in UAB's web pages. In order to comply with the requirement that UAB give annual notice of this policy to enrolled students, a short notice of the policy shall be sent to students each year.
Any student who believes that UAB has violated his or her right to access or privacy of educational records, as established by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, the accompanying regulations published at 45 Federal Register 30911, as amended at 45 Federal Register 86296, and this policy may contact the UAB Office of the Provost and/or may address a complaint to:
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Office
Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202
Request to Withhold Directory Information (PDF)
Updated Sept 7, 2011