Sharing and Protecting Your Information

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 governs and protects your rights to your individual educational records. The primary rights protected under FERPA are:

  • Students’ rights to review and inspect their educational records;
  • Students’ rights to have their educational records amended or corrected;
  • Students’ rights to control disclosure of certain portions of their educational records

FERPA also requires that you be advised of your rights concerning your education records and of certain categories of public information which the university has designated “directory information.”  This information will be routinely released to any inquirer unless you specifically request that all directory information be withheld.  Other information is considered private, or protected, by the University and is only releasable to the individual students themselves, the Dean’s Office, UWM departments, and individuals with an educational need-to-know.

Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before your educational record may be disclosed to a third party, unless they are exempted from this provision. Example of third parties who are exempt include organizations from which you have received financial aid and other educational institutions at which you intend to enroll.  There are also some instances in which prior consent is not required such as a health or safety emergency or in accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order.

Note: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student organizations seeking student information must contact the Student Involvement Office to request student directory information.

Under FERPA, you have the right to request a review and correction of your educational record.  Educational records are not stored in a central location on campus. Requests to review your records must be made in writing and presented to the appropriate office. That office will have up to 45 days to honor your request. For most students these offices will include the Registrar’s Office, the Department of Financial Aid, the Bursar’s Office, school or college dean, major department, Dean of Students or Residence Halls. You may request to have you record corrected if you believe it to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of your privacy rights. To request a change, please contact your school/college.

UW-Milwaukee and all institutions of higher education are required to notify our enrolled students at least annually of their rights under FERPA. See the full annual disclosure text.

What are considered educational records?

Educational records are all the records maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee about individual students, with seven exceptions:

  • Personal notes of UWM faculty and staff
  • Employment records
  • Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment
  • Campus Security records
  • Financial records of a parent or spouse
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in your records before January 1, 1975
  • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation for admission, employment or honorary recognition placed in your records after January 1, 1975, for which you have waived the right to inspect and review
What is considered directory information?

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in accordance with FERPA, has designated the following categories of information about individual students as public, or directory information.

  • Student’s name, address (mailing, home, email), telephone number;
  • Date (month and day) and place of birth;
  • Designation of school/college and level in school;
  • Major field of study;
  • Dates of attendance, including whether or not currently enrolled;
  • Campus;
  • Enrollment status, including semester credit load and part/full time status;
  • Degrees earned and dates of graduation (includes anticipated graduation dates);
  • Honors and awards received, including academic awards (receipt of a scholarship or fellowship, inclusion on the Dean’s list, or receipt of other academic awards);
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports;
  • Height and weight of members of athletic teams;
  • Previous higher education institutions attended;
  • Enrollment Delivery Mode.
What is considered private information?

Non-directory (private) information is any educational record not classified as directory information. Non-directory information in an education record that cannot be released to anyone, including parents, without prior written consent from the student.  University staff may access this information only if they have a legitimate need to use it in fulfillment of official duties. The following categories of information are considered private, or protected, by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:

  • Social Security Number
  • Campus identification number
  • Age/year of birth
  • Gender
  • Religious affiliation
  • Residency status
  • Marital status
  • Married name or previous name
  • Parent/guardian name(s) and address(es)
  • High school units
  • Transfer credits
  • Courses completed
  • Grades
  • Credits, and grade points
  • Grade point average and rank in class
  • Current class schedule
  • Advisor’s name
  • Academic actions
  • Current disciplinary actions
UW-Milwaukee FERPA hearing procedure - Student Records Appeal

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, current and former students are entitled to a hearing before a designated University official to contest information contained in the student’s education record(s) that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights. Through a FERPA hearing, a student may challenge the content of a record created by UW–Milwaukee. This ability to challenge the content of a record does not supplant any of the other appeals processes already in place at UW–Milwaukee, including, but not limited to, grade appeals, academic misconduct hearings, or nonacademic misconduct hearings. For example, a FERPA hearing can be used to assert that a grade was not properly recorded, but a FERPA hearing cannot be used to argue that a different grade should have been assigned based upon the quality of work. As a general matter, UW–Milwaukee cannot change the content of records created by outside individuals or entities, even if UW–Milwaukee possesses a copy of such records.

Prior to requesting a hearing, the student should try to resolve the matter informally with the University employee responsible for creating and/or maintaining the record(s). If the matter is not resolved informally, the student may request a hearing pursuant to this policy.

  1. The student shall submit a written request for a FERPA hearing to the UW–Milwaukee University Registrar via e-mail at regoff@uwm.edu. The request for a hearing must include (a) copies of the contested record(s) or a description of the contested record(s) with enough specificity that they can be identified and located by the University Registrar; (b) a statement that the student has attempted to resolve the matter informally including the identity of the University official(s) with whom the student worked toward informal resolution, or an explanation as to why informal resolution was not appropriate; and (c) a statement explaining why the student believes the record(s) is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights.
  2. Within five (5) business days after receiving the written request for a hearing, the University Registrar will schedule a hearing, which shall take place as soon as reasonably practical. The University Registrar will notify the student and the University employee(s) responsible for creating and/or maintaining the record(s) (the parties) of the date, time, and location of the hearing. As a general matter, two hours will be allotted for the hearing. If the student believes a longer hearing is necessary or other accommodations are necessary, the student should submit to the University Registrar for consideration a request for an extended hearing along with an explanation why a longer hearing is necessary or any other accommodation requests.
  3. The University Registrar will act as the hearing examiner and be responsible for (1) maintaining order; (2) listening to and reviewing information presented by the parties; and (3) issuing a written decision. If the University Registrar has a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing, other significant conflict of interest, or is not available within a reasonable timeframe, then the Registrar shall appoint a member of the Registrar Office Leadership Team who will serve as the hearing examiner. The hearing examiner will convene the Student Records Appeals Committee and may request counsel from an attorney in the UW–Milwaukee Office of Legal Affairs.
  4. Each party must provide the hearing examiner with any documents the party wishes the hearing examiner to consider no later than ten (10) business days prior to the hearing date. No later than five (5) business days before the hearing, the hearing examiner will provide both parties with copies of all documents received, unless significant and legally authorized privacy reasons preclude sharing information with the student.
  5. The hearing will be conducted in closed session, unless the student waives their privacy rights pursuant to FERPA and no information about any other student is contained in the education record(s) at issue. A request for an open hearing must be made no later than three (3) business days prior to the hearing date.
  6. The hearing will be audio recorded. The recording shall be kept by the Registrar Office for the timeframe required by its document retention procedures.
  7. At the hearing, the student will provide information and rationale explaining why the student believes the record(s) is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights. The University employee(s) responsible for creating and/or maintaining the record will present information and rationale explaining why the employee believes the record(s) is correct and/or that the student’s privacy rights were not violated.
  8. The parties may present witnesses at the hearing. Each party is responsible for arranging for the attendance of their own witnesses. Witnesses who are not parties will only be permitted to be present while testifying. Both parties and the hearing examiner may question witnesses. Questioning will be informal. The formal rules of evidence do not apply to a FERPA hearing. The hearing examiner may consider any relevant information and may exclude irrelevant or duplicative information.
  9. The student may be accompanied at the hearing by a support person (including an attorney at the student’s own expense). The support person is limited to advising the student and may not speak on the student’s behalf or question witnesses.
  10. After the hearing, the hearing examiner will deliberate in closed session and issue a written decision to the parties. The decision will be based solely upon information presented at the hearing and applicable law. Generally, the written decision will be issued within ten (10) business days. This timeframe may be longer if the circumstances warrant (e.g., exceptionally complicated matter).
  11. If the hearing examiner decides that the education record(s) was inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights, then the University Registrar shall provide instructions for remedying the matter. If the hearing examiner decides that the record(s) was accurate and/or the student’s privacy rights were not violated, then the student has the right to provide a statement to accompany the contested record(s) stating the student’s disagreement.
  12. If the student provides a statement to accompany the contested record(s), UW–Milwaukee will maintain that statement along with the record for as long as it maintains the record. If UW–Milwaukee discloses the record or portion of the record to which the statement relates, it will also disclose the student’s statement.
  13. The hearing examiner’s decision shall be final.

UWM does its part to keep your information safe. Under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privileges Act, you have options for sharing or withholding your information.

Granting Access to Private Records

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), college students are allowed to determine whether third parties (parents, employers, etc.) may access protected information about them.  UWM provides two primary ways for students to provide third parties with access to their information: PAWS Designate Access, and Student Consent Release.

PAWS Designate Access

Students have the ability to grant access to his/her record within PAWS by creating a Designate Access account. The account allows access to To Do Lists, Financials (including making payments and viewing Financial Aid), and Grades.

Creating a Designate Account
  1. Under Personal Information, click “Student Information Release”
  2. Click “Designate Access”
  3. Read privacy information and click “I agree to these conditions.”
  4. Click “Create Account.”
  5. Enter a name in “This Account Is For.”
  6. Create a password.
  7. Choose what information this new account may access by selecting “Give Access” or “Deny Access” in the drop-down menu for all items. Click “Save.”
    • A message will appear confirming that the account has been set up.
    • To add another account, click “Create Account” and follow the same process.

Once you have created an additional account, two e-mails will be sent to your UWM email account with the account ID and password. It is your responsibility to pass on this information to the account holder. You will receive two new e-mails each time an account is created or updated. Each student may have a maximum of three additional accounts at any time.

Information Provided to Designate Accounts
When you create a designate account, you have the ability to choose what information the account holder can view. Access may be granted as follows:

  • To Do Lists (provides items that applicants or students need to complete for a specific department on campus. For example, submitting a high school transcript to Admissions.)
  • View Financials (includes viewing billing information and Financial Aid.  See bill payment options at My Bill & University Finances.)
  • View Grades (includes viewing grades for current as well as previous semesters at UWM.)

Note: This access does not give anyone permission to call the University and ask questions regarding your account.

Who to Give Access To

Whether or not you give access to others is entirely up to you and is not recommended or required by UWM. If you do grant access, do so carefully and only for important reasons. Regardless, you should only give access to people you trust.

Deleting a Designate Access Account
Once an account is created, it can’t be deleted. However, access can be denied or the password can be changed, thereby preventing that account from accessing your information in the future.

  1. Under Personal Information, click “Grant Access to Others.”
  2. View your current accounts.
  3. Select the account you would like to remove.
    • You may either deny access to all areas for the account or change the password for the individual (see “How can I replace one of my old accounts with a new account?”)
  4. Click “Save.”
Replacing an Old Designate Account
  1. Under Personal Information, click “Grant Access to Others.”
  2. View your current accounts.
  3. Select the account you would like to replace.
  4. Click “Reset Password.”
  5. Enter a new name in the “This Account Is For.”
  6. Create a new password.
  7. Confirm the new password.
  8. Choose what areas this new account may access.
  9. Click “Save.”

Note: Account access is not reset by the University. Created accounts will be active for as long as the student’s PAWS account is active. Students are responsible for all updates to logins and passwords for each account.

Restricting Access to Public Records
There are two primary ways to restrict access to your public records:

Directory Restriction
UWM publishes an online directory of students, faculty, staff, departments and campus locations. By default, the directory includes your name, address, phone, UWM Email Address, year in school and degree program. In addition, UWM releases directory information of currently enrolled students in accordance with the Wisconsin Public Records Law.

You have the ability to withhold your information from being published in the directory and released through public records requests using the following steps:

  1. Log in to PAWS
  2. Under the yellow Personal Information header, click on the blue Change Contact Restriction button
  3. Click the Yes button to make your contact information private, then click Save
FERPA Block
Under FERPA, you have the right restrict the release of ALL information about yourself.  Think carefully before electing a FERPA Block. If you opt out, your name will not appear in honor listings or commencement programs, and UWM can’t verify your enrollment or confirm your degree to prospective employers.

To opt out, you have to complete and submit this form to the UWM Registrar’s Office.