The Office of the University Registrar has responsibility for student academic records and related processes, including registration, academic transcripts, confidentiality of student records, grade reporting, graduation and diplomas, enrollment verification, scheduling of classrooms and final exams, and degree audits. It’s possible that your student, at some point in his or her Penn State experience, will have contact with this office. Our goal is to provide students with accurate and complete information in a quick and efficient manner.
Student Educational Records
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974—FERPA (also known as the Buckley Amendment)—is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and identifies the rights of students with respect to student education records kept by institutions. University offices use education records to facilitate the development of students. As part of the requirements of FERPA, the University has a Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records (policy AD-11).
In addition, Penn State is committed to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of the student’s Social Security number. The Social Security number is requested at the time of application to the University, but is used in a very limited and controlled manner. The primary student identification number used to conduct University business is the Penn State ID number (known as PSU ID), which is assigned at the time of first affiliation with Penn State. Penn State’s policy governing the collection, storage, and use of Social Security number and PSU ID is outlined in administrative guideline ADG-08.
Formal student disciplinary records are centrally maintained in the Office of Student Conduct at the University Park campus. A student’s disciplinary record may be shared with faculty and administrative staff of the student’s college, and other authorized employees of the University who have a legitimate educational interest as defined by the University. Accessibility to student disciplinary records follows the University Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records.
The University may also exercise its right to share a student’s disciplinary record with others outside the University in special circumstances or as it deems advisable or appropriate, such as in accordance with the University Parental Notification Policy.
Student Rights Under FERPA
Under FERPA, institutions must not release education records—except under certain circumstances—without written consent from the student. This regulation does not apply to information that the University has identified as directory information (e.g. name, address, phone number, major) unless the student has blocked disclosure of such information (see “How Does a Student Request Directory Information be Withheld?” below).
The primary rights of students under FERPA are:
- The right to have some control over the disclosure of information from their education records;
- The right to inspect and review their education records; and
- The right to request the amendment of inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate education records.
Parent Rights Under FERPA
When the student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. This means that you may not obtain your student’s education records (including grades) without the written consent of your student.
However, parents may, with the student’s permission, access grades and other portions of their student’s education record on-line through LionPATH. See “How do parents get started on LionPATH Self Service?” in the LionPATH section for instructions on establishing parent access to LionPATH.
How does a student request directory information be withheld?
Under FERPA, an institution is permitted to release directory information (e.g. name, address, phone number, major) without written consent from the student. However, a student has the right to prevent this release. The student must complete and sign the Request to Withhold Directory Information form (found on the Registrar’s website under “Student Forms”) to keep directory information confidential. The signed form must be taken in person or mailed along with a copy of photo identification, to any campus Registrar’s office. If an e-mail address is provided, notification will be sent to the student when the directory hold is in effect.
It is important to note that withholding directory information has the following consequences:
- Student name/address is excluded from the online directory;
- Student name will not appear in the commencement program;
- Verification of enrollment, graduation, or degrees awarded will not be provided to third parties, including potential employers; and
- No information about the student will be released to any person (including the student) on the telephone or via e-mail.
How does a student remove a request to withhold directory information?
If a student later wishes to remove the directory hold, the student must complete and sign the Request to Release Directory Information form found on the Registrar’s web site under “Student Forms”. The signed form may be taken in person or mailed along with a copy of photo identification, to any campus Registrar’s office. If an e-mail address is provided, notification will be sent to the student when the directory hold is removed.
Insurance companies, financial lenders or employers may require proof that a student was or is currently enrolled at Penn State. An academic verification provides proof of enrollment, graduation, student status, and other related information.
Currently enrolled students may use “Enrollment Verification” under other academics in LionPATH Self Service. The student may print an unofficial copy and mail it to the requesting agency. Or the student may request an official verification, containing the University Registrar’s signature and University Seal on security paper, to be mailed to the specified address via first class U.S. mail within three business days.
This same function is also available to parents through LionPATH Self Service. However, they must first be granted access by their student.
Because of the volume of requests received, the Office of the University Registrar is unable to complete agency-supplied verification forms. Rather, the official University academic verification statement can be attached to the original agency-supplied form.