Family Education Rights & Privacy Act
Stony Brook University maintains various student records to document academic progress as well as to record interactions with University staff and officials. To protect the student's rights to privacy, and to conform to federal and State laws the University has an established policy for handling students' records. Notice of this policy and of students' rights under federal law is given annually to the campus community.
The University is authorized to provide access to student records to campus officials and employees who have legitimate educational interest in such access, without the student's written consent. These persons are those who have responsibilities in connection with campus academic, administrative or service functions and who have reason for using student records connected with their campus or other related academic/administrative responsibilities as opposed to a personal or private interest. Such determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Access to student records databases is available on a need-to-know basis to appropriate campus officials only after required authorization is received by the Registrar's Office. More information about the use of information technology in accessing student records by University employees is available. Please see: http://it.stonybrook.edu/policies/p109
With very limited exceptions, student information must not be transmitted by any University employee to anyone outside the University without the express written release by the student or pursuant to a lawfully subpoena/order, coordinated by the Office of University Counsel.
The campus community must remain vigilant about any intentional or unintentional abuse of the existing privacy laws, including the misuse of any student identifier, including the student's Social Security Number and the Stony Brook ID number. To report any concerns or violations, please contact the Office of University Counsel, 328 Administration, (631) 632-6110, or the Office of the Registrar, 276 Administration, (631) 632-6175.
The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 regulates a wide range of privacy related activities including:
- Management of student records maintained by the University
- Regulations regarding who has access to student records
- For which purposes access to student records is granted
University officials will only release educational information upon receipt of a signed, dated, written consent from the student -- which must specify the records that may be disclosed and identify the party to whom the disclosure may be made.
The University may release information without the consent of the student in the following intances:
- Parents of a dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152 and who supply supporting documentation, may be granted access to a student's educational record at the University's descretion;
- In connection with Financial Aid,
- To organizations who are conducting studies that are on behalf of educational agencies;
- To Federal or State educational authorities;
- To accrediting organizations;
- In compliance with a lawfully issued subpoena;
- In connection with a health or safety emergency;
- To contractual third parties.
Non-University individuals (including parents except as described above)
may not have access
to educational records other than Directory Information unless authorization from
the student is obtained or a lawful subpoena/court order is issued to the University.
Examples of records not released are grades; grade point average; the specific number
of hours/credits enrolled, passed, or failed; Social Security Number; student ID number;
name of parents or next of kin; and/or residency status.
Students may complete a form authorizing the Registrar's Office to permit non-University individuals to view the student's academic record.
Under FERPA Students have the following rights:
- Right of inspection of records
- Right to challenge records believed to be inaccurate
- Right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable records (with exceptions).
Upon written request, the University shall provide a student with access to his or her educational records. The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education or the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stony Brook University has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions, academic and financial files. Students wishing to review their educational records must make written requests to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education or the Vice Provost for Graduate Education listing the item(s) of interest. Educational records covered by FERPA will be made available within 45 days of the request.
Certain information concerning students is considered to be open to the public upon inquiry. This public information is called directory information and includes the following:
- Name, Local Address, Local Telephone
- Program of Student (including college of enrollment and major)
- Enrollment Status (e.g. Full-time, Part-time, Withdrawn)
- Degrees and Awards Received
- Dates of Attendance
- Date of Graduation
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
Be aware that students may complete a request to the Registrar’s Office to suppress
even directory information from being divulged. Accordingly, before revealing directory
information, please contact the Registrar.
New York State law specifically bars the display of a student's social security in any public posting of grades, on class rosters or other lists provided to teachers, on student identification cards, and in student directories or similar listings. Accordingly, faculty and staff may not use student social security or University identification numbers - or any portion thereof - to post grades or provide other publicly accessible information*.
*This includes leaving exams, test, quizzes, etc. in a publicly accessible place for student’s to retrieve.
Registration as a student and attendance at or participation in classes and other campus and University activities constitutes an agreement by the student to Stony Brook University's use and distribution (both now and in the future) of the student's image or voice in photographs, videotapes, or other electronic reproductions for promotional or marketing activities.
A request to suppress release of directory information is available at the Registrar's
Office, 2nd floor of the Administration building. Please bring your Stony Brook identification
card in order for changes to be processed to your academic record.
Once filed, this request becomes a part of the student's record until the student instructs the University, in writing, to have the request removed.
Student Services Records - Counseling Center Director, Dean of Students, Director of Student Activities, Vice President for Student Affairs
Financial Records - Bursar, Director of Student Accounts, Vice President for Finance, Director of Financial Aid
- Financial records of the student's parents or guardians;
- Confidential letters of recommendation which were placed in the educational records of a student prior to January 1, 1975;
- Records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel which are kept in the sole possession of the maker, and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a temporary substitute for the maker;
- Records of law enforcement units;
- Employment records related exclusively to an individual's employment capacity;
- Medical and psychological records;
- Thesis or research papers; or
- Records that only contain information about an individual after the individual is no longer a student at the institution.
Students must NOT be allowed access to:
- Education records that contain information on more than one student (the student may review only the specific information about himself or herself).
- Financial records of the student's parents.
- Letters of recommendation or reference received after January 1, 1975 for which the rights of inspection have been waived.
Recent FERPA Changes (USA Patriot Acts)
In response to the terrorist attacks on the United States that took place on September 11, 2001, Congress has recently made changes to the FERPA. Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT ACTS amended FERPA, which now contains 16 exceptions to the general rules. The changes to FERPA became effective on October 26, 2001, when the President signed into law the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001."
Ex Parte Orders
The recent amendment to FERPA permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose - without the consent or knowledge of the student or parent - personally identifiable information from the student's education records to the Attorney General of the United States or to his designee in response to an ex parte order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes specified in sections 2332b(g)(5)(B) and 2331 of title 18, U.S. Code. An ex parte order is an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction without notice to an adverse party.
Lawfully Issued Subpoenas and Court Orders
FERPA permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose, without consent, information from a student's education records in order to comply with a "lawfully issued subpoena or court order." The Office of University Counsel coordinates all subpoena and court orders.
Health or Safety Emergency
The health or safety exception permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the written consent of the student in the case of an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or other individuals. Typically, law enforcement officials, public health officials, and trained medical personnel are the types of parties to whom information may be disclosed under this FERPA exception. The US Education Department consistently has limited the health and safety exception to a specific situation that presents imminent danger or to a situation that requires the immediate need for information from education records in order to avert or diffuse serious threats to the safety or health of a student or other individuals. Any release must be narrowly tailored considering the immediacy, magnitude, and specificity of information concerning the emergency. Moreover, this exception is temporally limited to the period of the emergency and generally will not allow for a blanket release of personally identifiable information from a student's education records.
Disclosures to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
An educational institution may release personally identifiable information of a student who has signed a Form I-20 and any student attending on an M-1 or J-1 visa to the INS.
- Complete FERPA regulation is posted in the US Department of Education website: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
- Amendments to FERPA are available at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco/pdf/htterrorism.pdf
- Copies of this policy are available at the University Registrar's Office, and it is published in the Undergraduate Bulletin and in the University Registrar's Web site: http://www.stonybrook.edu/registrar/federalrights.shtml
- University Policy on Student Access to Academic Records (P507R)
- State University Of New York At Stony Brook Responsible Use Of Information Technology Policy (P109:R): http://ws.cc.sunysb.edu/it/policies.shtml?page=p109
- Questions about the University's interpretation of the FERPA guidelines should be referred to the University Counsel, 328 Administration, 2-6110.
The general intent of the legislation is to bar the public display of a student's social security number in order to prevent the potential misuse of this sensitive and confidential information. The new law does not prohibit the institution's internal use of the social security number when required for its own legitimate purposes. The legislation specifically bars the display of a student's social security number in a posting or public listing of grades, on class rosters or other lists provided to teachers, on student identification cards, and in student directories or similar listings.
Posting grades using students' social security numbers violates the federal FERPA law as well.
Social security numbers are allowed to be used in connection with the employment of students to document and report wages and withholdings as permitted by law (42 USC, 405(c). In addition, since federal regulations require higher education institutions to maintain administrative and fiscal procedures and records to adequately administer student aid programs (CFR 668.14 and 668.16), the financial aid office will continue to require students to provide their social security numbers on the application for financial aid and other relevant documents.
The campus community must remain vigilant about any intentional or unintentional abuse of the existing privacy laws, including the misuse of the student's social security number. To report any concerns or violations, please contact the Office of University Counsel, 328 Administration, (631) 632-6110.