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Confidentiality of Student Records : S-020

Policy/Guideline Area

Student Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges


These procedures are issued to aid TBR institutions in implementing TBR Policy No. 3:02:03:00 Confidentiality of Student Records. Each institution shall develop policies and procedures consistent with these procedures and TBR Policy No. 3:02:03:00.


  1. Dissemination of Institutional Policies and Procedures
    1. The policies and procedures of each institution and school shall include a listing of the types and locations of educational records maintained by the institution and the titles of persons responsible for each.
    2. Each institution and school shall specify where copies of the institutional policies and procedures may be obtained and shall furnish copies to students upon request.
    3. Any charge for such copies may not exceed that charge normally made for similar types of copies.
  2. Confidential Records
    1. Except as is otherwise provided by this policy, all personally identifiable records (by name, identifier or characteristics) directly related to a student or former student shall be kept confidential unless the student signs a consent form as provided in part IV below.
    2. Such confidential records include, but are not limited to, grades, class enrollment and attendance, disciplinary records, admission records, student grievances, complaints or appeals.
    3. Disclosure of such records shall be permitted only under one of the exceptions described below.
      1. Directory Information
        1. Except as provided below, the institution may disclose directory information consistent with this policy to any person requesting such information without the consent of the student.
        2. Each institution must publish in its catalog and student handbook the information which shall be considered directory information, which shall be limited to the following:
          1. Name;
          2. Address;
          3. Telephone number;
          4. Date and place of birth;
          5. Major field of study;
          6. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports;
          7. Weight and height of members of athletic teams;
          8. Dates of attendance;
          9. Degrees and awards received;
          10. Most recent previous educational institution attended;
          11. Other information of the type above specifically approved by the institution as acceptable directory information.
        3. Institutional policy must provide the student the opportunity to refuse to allow disclosure of any designated directory information.
        4. The policy shall specify the procedures by which the student is to notify the institution of such refusal and the time within which the student must provide such notice.
        5. Each institution shall forward to the Office of General Counsel a list of information which shall be considered directory.
      2. Disclosure in Bona Fide Emergency
        1. Disclosure of student records is permitted if necessary to protect the student or other person against threat to the safety or health of either.
        2. Such disclosure may be made only in the case of an immediate bona fide emergency such that consent cannot be obtained.
        3. Such disclosure shall be limited to necessary information only and to those persons in a position to render assistance in the emergency situation.
      3. Disclosure within the Institution
        1. Only those institution officials and/or persons employed by the institution who have a genuine need to know based on a legitimate educational interest may have access to a student's records.
        2. Each institution shall include in its policies and procedures a definition of "school officials" for purposes of the Buckley Amendment and shall specify categories of persons included in the definition, including any non-employees (volunteers) considered to be "school officials".
        3. Each institution shall also include a statement specifying that a legitimate educational interest shall be limited to an interest arising from the faculty/staff member's fulfillment of their assigned responsibilities, and disclosure shall be limited to such information as is necessary to fulfill those responsibilities.
      4. Disclosure with Consent
        1. The institution may disclose personally identifiable information with the signed written consent of the student.
        2. The consent form must be dated and must specifically identify the particular records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure and the persons to whom such disclosure is to be made.
        3. A copy of the consent must be maintained with the student's record to which it pertains.
        4. Unless the consent form specifies that the information may be disclosed further, the statement attached to the disclosed information shall also include a warning against further disclosure by the recipient.
      5. Disclosure Pursuant to a Subpoena
        1. The institution must disclose confidential student records pursuant to a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order.
        2. Upon receipt of such a subpoena or judicial order, the institution shall examine the subpoena or order to verify that it has been executed by an officer of the court or other authorized official. (The TBR Office of General Counsel may be contacted for assistance in verification.)
        3. Prior to disclosure, the institution must use reasonable efforts to notify the student of the receipt of the subpoena or order and of the institution's intent to comply.
        4. Oral notification should be followed by a written confirmation, a copy of which shall be maintained along with a copy of the subpoena and record of the disclosure with the student's record.
        5. The institution shall affix to the sealed envelope containing student records an affidavit from the custodian of records stating that each eligible student whose records are within the sealed envelope was notified of the subpoena prior to the compliance and the date on which such eligible student was notified, unless the subpoena was issued by a federal grand jury or for a law enforcement purpose and the court of other issuing agency ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or the information furnished in response to the subpoena not be disclosed.
        6. The sealed envelope shall then be enclosed in an outer envelope, sealed, and directed to the appropriate entity.
      6. Disclosure to Parents of Dependent Students
        1. The institution may disclose personally identifiable student records to parents of a student only if the student is a dependent of the parent as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code.
      7. Disclosure to Officials of Other Schools and School Systems
        1. The institution may disclose confidential student records to officials of other institutions and/or systems in which the student is currently enrolled or seeks or intends to enroll, provided such disclosure is consistent with the following conditions.
          1. The institution makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student, and/or parent if student consents, of the disclosure at the student's last known address. The institution does not have to attempt notice to the student under the exceptions below.
            1. The disclosure is initiated by the student at the sending institution.
            2. The institution includes a notice in its policies and procedures that it forwards education records on request to a school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
          2. The institution provides the student a copy of the records transferred upon request by the student.
          3. The institution provides the student an opportunity for a hearing, as provided in IV.B, upon request by the student.
      8. Other Exceptions
        1. Federal regulations (See 34 C.F.R., Sections 99.1-99.67) provide for disclosure upon certain other limited circumstances. These exceptions are narrow in scope and are strictly construed.
        2. Disclosure pursuant to these exceptions should not be made unless specifically approved by an appropriate institution official.
        3. The TBR Office of General Counsel is available for assistance in ascertaining the applicability of the exceptions.
  3. Record of Requests and Disclosures
    1. Institutional policies and procedures shall specify that copies of requests for disclosures and a record of the information disclosed must be retained with the student records for all disclosures made except those for directory information and disclosures to other school officials.
    2. The record of disclosures may be inspected by the student, the officials responsible for the records and by persons responsible for auditing the records.
  4. Student Access to Records and Right to Amend
    1. Except as provided in Part C below, a student has the right to inspect, review and obtain a copy of their educational records.
    2. Each institution shall include in its institutional policies and procedures developed pursuant to this policy the procedure by which a student may request to inspect, review and/or obtain a copy of their records.
      1. The procedures shall require compliance with the student's request within a reasonable time which shall not exceed 45 days.
      2. The institution may charge the student a fee for copies which shall not exceed the institution's normal fee for such copies.
      3. The procedure must specify any circumstances under which a student will be denied such copies.
      4. The institution shall also, upon a student's request, provide a student with an explanation/interpretation of the record.
    3. Exceptions to Student Access
      1. A student's right to access to their records is subject to the following exceptions:
        1. For records pertaining to more than one student, a student may only view the portion of the record pertaining to themself and may not view the portion pertaining to the other students.
        2. A student may not have access to financial records and statements of their parents or any information contained therein.
        3. Students may not have access to confidential letters and confidential statements of recommendation which were placed in the student's records prior to January 1, 1975; Provided that
          1. The letters and statements were solicited with a written assurance of confidentiality or were sent and retained with a documented understanding of confidentiality; and
          2. The letters and statements are used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended.
        4. Students may not have access to confidential letters of recommendation and confidential statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records of the student after January 1, 1975 which are either
          1. Respecting admission to an educational institution;
          2. Respecting an application for employment; or
          3. Respecting the receipt of an honor or honorary recognition;
          4. Provided that, the student has waived their right to inspect and review the letters/statements in a signed written waiver.
            1. A separate waiver must be provided for each category of letters/statements.
            2. The waiver may be revoked at any time; however, the revocation will not affect the student's rights as to letters previously provided under the waiver.
            3. The institution may not require such a waiver of students as a condition or prerequisite to eligibility for a program or service.
            4. The letters or statements provided under the waiver may be used only for the purpose designated on the waiver, and the student must be notified of the receipt by the institution of all letters/statements provided under the waiver.
    4. Student's Right to Request Amendment
      1. A student may request to amend their record if they feel it is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their rights.
      2. Institutional policies and procedures shall specify how such requests are to be made.
      3. The institution must consider the request and convey its decision to comply or deny within a reasonable time of the request.
      4. If the request is denied, the institution shall inform the student of the right to a hearing.
      5. The institution policies and procedures shall specify the procedure for the hearing which shall include, at a minimum, the following:
        1. The hearing must be held within a reasonable time of the request.
        2. The notice of the hearing must include the date, place and time of the hearing and shall be sent to the student reasonably in advance of the hearing date.
        3. The hearing date must be conducted by an institution official not having a direct interest in the outcome.
        4. The student may present evidence.
        5. The student may have the assistance or representation of individuals of their choice, including an attorney.
      6. The institution must make its decision within a reasonable time.
        1. The decision must be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing and shall include a summary of the evidence and reasons for the decision.
        2. The institution shall inform the student of its decision and, if the request is denied, of the student's right to place a statement in the file commenting on the information in the file and setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision.
        3. The statement must be maintained with the record and a copy provided to anyone to whom the record is provided.
      7. The above procedures shall not be used by the student to contest the underlying action taken by the institution which has been recorded in the student's record but shall be limited to the issues of whether the record is inaccurate or misleading in recording the underlying action or whether the institution's placement of the information in the student's record is in violation of the student's rights.
  5. Right to File a Complaint
    1. Institutional policies and procedures shall include a statement specifying to whom at the institution violations of the Buckley Amendment may be reported.
    2. A statement shall also be included that complaints of violations by the institution may be filed with the Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Education. 



T.C.A. § 49-8-203; Buckley Amendment; FERPA


Presidents Meeting, August 18, 1987; Presidents' Meeting February 10, 2004.

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