Faculty & Staff Resources
Student information is easily accessible via Self Service Carolina; this is sufficient for most faculty and staff. You automatically have SSC access once USC Columbia HR has input your employee information, but you will need to contact the Registrar's Office to be able to view student information.
For the ability to directly input/update student data, you need Internet Native Banner (INB) access; go here for information on requesting a user account.
Complete the Banner Access Form and Confidentiality Agreement found at the conclusion of the FERPA quiz. Obtain required signatures for both forms and either drop them off in the Registrar's Office or email scanned copies to Gary Sutton (email@example.com). Shortly after submitting your request form you will receive an automated email asking you to verify you want Banner access. Please be sure to respond because until you do the request process will not proceed.
To request access, go here.
Print both pages of the DegreeWorks Access Request found at the conclusion of the quiz, complete the first page, obtain required signatures, and either drop them off in the Registrar's Office or email scanned copies to Gary Sutton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For information on using DegreeWorks, go here.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Students have specific, protected rights regarding the release of such records and FERPA requires that institutions adhere strictly to these guidelines. You share the responsibility for protecting the privacy rights of USCB students and their records. You should be familiar with the various requirements of FERPA, a synopsis of which is available here. University policy regarding the management of student records is based on this federal legislation. The penalty for inappropriate disclosure is the withdrawal of essentially all types of federal funding. You also need to understand that while South Carolina law prohibits individuals from suing universities for alleged FERPA violations, they can initiate legal action against specific university employees (e.g., a faculty or staff member).
While all this can seem scary, there is no need to be paranoid; it's a matter of clearly understanding the law and its implications. The Registrar's Office staff is available to provide guidance for any situation.
I have been told that I can release directory information. What exactly is that?
The University has designated the following student data as directory information:
- email address
- local and permanent mailing addresses
- telephone numbers
- semesters of attendance
- enrollment status (full- or part-time)
- date of admission
- date of expected or actual graduation
- major and minor fields of study
- whether or not currently enrolled
- classification (freshman, etc.)
- type of degree being pursued
- degrees, honors, and awards received (including scholarships and fellowships)
- weight and height of members of athletic teams, and whether the student has participated in officially recognized activities and sports sponsored by the University
How can I find out whether a student has directed the university not to release their directory information?
If you have Data Warehouse access, Column A in the Registered Student report has a confidentiality indicator. If you don't, all academic department admins can run this report; you can either check with them or with the Registrar's Office.
I am the faculty/staff sponsor for the local chapter of an honorary organization that is an officially registered campus group. May I send student lists with GPAs to the national chapter?
No. It would be inappropriate to provide any information that has been sorted by GPA or any other piece of non-directory information. What you may do is send the invitation mailing from here without providing your national office the list. This gives students the opportunity to self-select by responding or not responding to the invitation and keeps USCB compliant with FERPA. Note that it is also inappropriate to permit any student members to have access to candidate information if it is prepared using any non-directory information.
My department maintains a separate database of all students in our major. Is there any reason to safeguard these records?
Yes! All student records that are created and/or maintained by anyone in the university are protected by FERPA in exactly the same way. This includes derived databases in academic departments, administrative offices, etc.
What is the best way to dispose of sensitive materials?
After confirming that you are following the appropriate retention schedule, shredding is the preferred method. The State Records Policy and Retention Schedule is available here. Sub-article 10 deals specifically with Academic Affairs.
If a student asks a faculty member for an explanation regarding his or her performance, can a faculty member compare that student's work with the work of other students?
No. Although faculty members can, of course, explain why a particular student performed well or poorly on a given examination or other assignment, in so doing they should not discuss or make reference to the performance of other students. Disclosing information regarding Student A to Student B jeopardizes the privacy rights of Student A.
Can faculty and staff members share with each other information from a student's education records?
Faculty and staff members should not share this information with one another unless the person to whom the information is disclosed has a "legitimate educational interest" in the information. To have such an interest, the faculty or staff member must have a need to know the information to perform his or her job function. Mere curiosity is insufficient to satisfy this standard.
Parents often inquire about their student's performance. What rights do they have in terms of access to student information?
This can be an extremely frustrating area for parents of traditionally aged students, particularly if the parents are paying the bills. Nonetheless, all FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student when the student either reaches the age of eighteen or moves into post-secondary education, regardless of age. This means that you may not discuss anything about students with parents or spouses, unless you have advance written consent from the student explicitly stating what information you may share, or the student is physically present with the parent for a discussion meeting.
Notes kept by faculty or staff related to students which are not shared with anyone else do not fall under FERPA, so they do not need to be disclosed.
For students who have directed the university not to release their directory information, you may not even acknowledge that the student is present at USCB. There may be an occasional exception in the case of a legitimate emergency, but in that case campus law enforcement personnel will be involved, and they will work through the Registrar's Office.
My briefcase in which I had student personal information was just stolen. What should I do?
- report the theft to the Department of Public Safety / University Police 843-208-8911.
- notify the Registrar's Office (email@example.com or 843-208-8050).
- notify all students affected by letter or e-mail. Include summary of what occurred, police report number, and advice to monitor any suspicious activity involving possible misuse of information to establish unauthorized credit. Inform students that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains the Federal government's central website for information about identify theft at http://www.consumer.gov./idtheft/.
- submit a copy of the letter sent to students and a list of all affected students to the Registrar's Office.
What do I do when I receive a request for information about a student who has directed the university not to release any information?
This can be very awkward. If the student has told us not to release any information, university employees may not even acknowledge that the person is or has ever been a student here. You might say, "I have no releasable information." If the caller questions that statement, you may reiterate what you have already said or, of course, you may refer them to the Registrar's Office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-208-8050).
A student complained that I left my grade book open on my desk, and he could see grades for the whole class. Isn't that picky?
No, actually, it's not. Everyone who deals with protected student information needs to be cautious about "passive" and unintended releases of information. This includes leaving information visible on your desk or walking away from a computer screen that displays student information. We even need to be alert to where monitors are placed, so that they are not visible through a window or doorway.
What do I do if a student tells me that he believes a colleague has inappropriately disclosed his student information?
Refer the student to the Registrar's Office (email@example.com or 843-208-8050).
FERPA-protected class information was placed on the web. There are no links to the information, but anyone can find it through an Internet search. What should I do?
This should be reported to your department chair, so that the protected information can be removed from public access immediately. Experience has shown that when this occurs, it is generally unintentional. Many people have the mistaken notion that if they do not provide a link to their Web space, it is private. With the powerful search engines that are available today, everyone must ensure that they are using appropriate security measures when placing sensitive information on the Web.
Some of my students want to be advised either by mail or by email. Are there issues involved with exchanging information?
Possibly. When a student comes to your office, you either recognize the student or ask for picture identification, but you are unable to do that through mail or email. It is always appropriate to communicate with students in these ways provided that they are using their official USCB physical or email addresses (@uscb.edu or @mailbox.sc.edu). This information is available in Self Service Carolina. You should exercise extreme caution in using email to communicate confidential or sensitive matters and should not assume that email is private and confidential. It is especially important that users are careful to send messages only to the intended recipient(s). If a student prefers to use email, you may want to obtain his/her advance, signed, written authorization to exchange information by email. The document should include their understanding that they assume all risk assumed with any possible inappropriate interception of an email transmission. If you do follow this approach, be certain to retain the signed authorization document.
What about writing letters of recommendation, for either future employment or admission to an advanced degree program?
Again, it is required that you have written authorization from the student if you are going to disclose anything about academic performance, which is likely what the recipient of your letter will be looking for. In addition, if you are writing a letter of recommendation for admission to a graduate program, you may also be shown a copy of a form the student has signed waiving his or her right to view your letter. It is good practice to copy that form and retain it for your own records, along with the student's written authorization document.
What is the right way for me to respond to a subpoena, court order or request from a law enforcement professional for records?
All requests for student information, whether by subpoena, court order or authorization, should be directed to the Registrar's Office. Do not be intimidated by a badge.
Former students frequently use my name as a reference. Are there any liabilities that I should be aware of?
While it's preferable that students follow generally accepted protocol and ask permission in advance of using your name as a reference, you may still be able to provide assistance. First, if this is a frequent occurrence, you may wish to notify your current and future students that they need to discuss this with you in advance. Second, you should require written permission from each student who wishes to use you as a reference. For you to discuss the student and his/her performance freely, the permission needs to be worded very broadly. If the authorization is worded narrowly, be certain that you only discuss those areas which you have been given permission to disclose.
I've been told I may not include information about top-notch students in the department's annual report. Is this correct?
The answer is perhaps. It would be a FERPA violation to include specific information about any student who has directed the university not to release his/her information. Additionally, without advance written consent, it would be a violation to disclose grades or performance indicators for any student. If you obtain written permission from each student, it would be permissible to include the information. The department would need to retain the written permission as documentation about the release. There is no issue with providing aggregate data, e.g., the average GPA for all students in a particular major.
At the start of the term, I pass a class roster around during my class so students can check their info. Is this bad practice?
While there is an expectation that students may learn each other's names through the course of regular class activities during the term, official class rosters include student names and ID numbers, which may not be disclosed without the advance written consent of each individual student. A better approach would be to encourage your students to go to Self Service Carolina to confirm their registration.
I left a stack of graded papers in a box outside my office so students could pick them up at their convenience. Is this okay?
No, this is a problem. Although it may seem like a convenient service to your students to provide quick return of materials in this way, there is nothing to prevent anyone from inappropriately sifting through all of the papers to learn grades other than his own and possibly to obtain other students' identifying information, all of which is protected.
Why can't I post lists of students and their grades on the department bulletin board or on my website?
FERPA does not permit the public disclosure of personally identifiable student information. Posting grades in this manner would be a violation.