FERPA Block Information
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Harvard University is committed to complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA; also known as the Buckley Amendment), which protects the privacy of student records. Although most information contained in a student’s educational record is confidential, some of that information is not considered to be harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed and is referred to as "directory information." FERPA prohibits Schools from releasing information other than that designated as "directory information" without the student's permission.
FERPA also gives a student the right to block public display of directory information. Schools are required to convey to students which information they classify as directory information and allow students and parents a reasonable amount of time to request that the School not disclose directory information about them (such a request is referred to at Harvard as a "FERPA block").
Information contained in a student’s record that is not specifically designated "directory information" is not distributed within the University or made public, except in cases of legitimate educational interest (i.e., to "school officials" who have an educational need to know for the effective functioning of their office).
Directory information at Harvard University is determined by each School, but may include any of the following categories recognized by the University:
name, address, telephone listing, email address, image, date of birth, field of study, dates of enrollment, anticipated or actual date of graduation, enrollment status, degrees, honors and awards, prior degrees and institutions attended, class year, house affiliation, weight and height of athletic team members, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, parents’ or guardians’ home address and phone numbers, country of citizenship, place of birth, permanent address and phone number, summer address, and society.
Information about which of these categories is considered directory information for each School is public and may be obtained at the Registrar’s Office of each School.
FERPA Block and Effects
Those students who request that full directory information about them not be disclosed (referred to at Harvard as a "FERPA block") should be aware of the substantial consequences of the block:
Harvard will not acknowledge the existence of any student with an active FERPA block.
A FERPA block will prevent the student from being listed as having attended Harvard, and it will prevent Harvard from acknowledging that a student is currently enrolled at the University. The only exceptions involve the US government, US law enforcement, or Harvard officials with legitimate educational interest including the need to maintain School operation.
A FERPA block will keep a student from being listed in the printed Harvard phonebook (provided the block was requested before the phonebook is sent for printing), as well as in other Harvard University publications, including the Harvard Commencement Book . The FERPA block request form must be delivered to the School Registrar by September 30 in order to prevent the student's directory information being published in the University printed phone directories.
A student's directory information will be removed from the central Harvard online directory within 3 business days of receipt of the block request form. Local School directory removal intervals may differ.
FERPA Block and Authorized Access
Those students who request a FERPA block should also be aware that this request does not restrict administrative access to their information where there is a legitimate educational interest, but does restrict other sharing of this information. For example, a FERPA block will not keep advisors or tutors from seeing the student’s information, or prevent the student from being listed on a class list where access to the list is limited to members of the class, or from being shown in online class tools as long as use of such tools is restricted to members of the class.
A FERPA block, once set, will remain in place until the student authorizes its removal. If a student has an active FERPA block at the time of graduation, it prevents the student from being listed as an alumnus/a of Harvard University. A student with a FERPA block who becomes a Harvard employee will not appear in official Harvard employee directories or listings.
Alternative Privacy Options
Students should check with the Registrar of each School to determine alternative, less extensive means to limit access to directory information. Individual Schools may offer students the opportunity to manage privacy of particular fields of directory information without choosing the full FERPA block.
How to Request a FERPA Block
Download the appropriate form, complete it, and bring or fax to your School’s Registrar’s office. If faxed, note the FERPA block will not be implemented without a personal conversation with Registrar staff. You must interact personally with your School's Registrar's office.
If you cross register with another Harvard school or transfer to another Harvard (or non-Harvard) school you will have to file a separate FERPA block request with the Registrar of that school.