Privacy Glossary

Directory information:

Information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. NOTE: Items that can never be identified as directory information are a student’s social security number, citizenship, gender, religious preference, grades and GPA.

Education Records:

The definition of education record under FERPA is broad. It essentially refers to any record that is directly related to a student and that is maintained by the University or someone acting on behalf of the University. It includes information that is recorded in any way, including by computer media. In general, we can assume that a record, if it relates to a student, is an education record and would treat it as such. The terms “student record” and “education record” are often used interchangeably. They are, however, distinguishable under FERPA. For example, some student records are not considered education records and are not subject to FERPA protection. The term “education records” does not include the following:

  • Sole-Possession Records: Records of institutional personnel that are not accessible or revealed to any other individual.
  • Law Enforcement Records: Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement. Note: If records of the University’s Police Department are shared with others on campus, such as Student Affairs for disciplinary reasons, they become education records and therefore are subject to FERPA.
  • Employment Records: Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution that are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to individuals in their capacity as employees, and are not available for use for any other purpose. Exception: Records of individuals in attendance at an institution who are employed as a result of their status as students are education records. For example: work-study students and graduate assistants.
  • Medical Records: Records created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional used solely in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and not disclosed to anyone other than individuals providing such treatment.
  • Post- Graduation/Alumni Records: Records of an institution that contain information relating to a person only after that person is no longer a student at the institution (such as information gathered on the accomplishments of alumni).

Eligible Student:

A student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of postsecondary education.

Legitimate Educational Interest:

The demonstrated “need to know” by a school official. Although FERPA does not define “legitimate education interest,” it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining when their school officials have a legitimate educational interest in a student’s education records. At ASU a school official demonstrates legitimate education interest if they are:

  • Performing a task that is specified in the official’s position description or contract agreement; related to a student’s education; or related to the discipline of a student
  • Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as counseling, job placement, or financial aid
  • Maintaining the safety and security of the campus

Legitimate education interest does not include simply having a curiosity about the academic record or disciplinary proceedings with regard to a student without some legitimate academic reason. Thus, all records of all students are not open to all faculty or staff at the University regardless of access.

Personally Identifiable:

Data or information that include:

  • The name of the student, the student’s parent, or other family members
  • The student’s address
  • A personal identifier such as a social security number or student ID number
  • A list of personal characteristics or other information that would make the student’s identity easily traceable


Any information or data recorded in any medium (such as handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche or any form of electronic data storage).

School Official:

A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position; a trustee or outside contractor such as an attorney or auditor acting as an agent for the University; students or others serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or who is assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.