Ask the FERPA Professor

February 18, 2019
  • FERPA
  • Identity Management
  • Recordkeeping Compliance
  • Records and Academic Services
  • Student Academic Records and Academic Policy
  • FERPA Professor
deuc4dqdrbqwifk27ppv_shutterstock_26355862 Hello FERPA Professor!    
 
At our campus we have identified “directory information” that includes date of birth. I have a new administrator (boss) who is challenging why we have this identified as directory information. At the various institutions I’ve been associated with, this has always been directory information (we’ve never kept nor identified "place of birth" as directory) as we do utilize this information in our search of matching students with similar names and in our matching and verification, we do verify the date as provided.
 
However, we do not print on our official documents (transcript) the year of birth, just month/day, nor do we provide to any external request the student’s date of birth in any type of report/list.  Obviously, we also verify date when reporting to various federal/state agencies.
 
We request/require date of birth during the application cycle and record it accordingly in our secure system – not displayed in any public screens or reports -- and we administratively utilize the information. 

So my question to you… should we collect date of birth, but not identify the date of birth as “directory” information?  There’s always the caveat that this info would not be generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Should we add to our statement that we as an institution may specify that disclosure of directory information will be limited, for specific purposes (as required to reporting agencies and internal administrative requirements)?
 
Really appreciate your taking time and providing your insight.
 
With best regards, 
Dee Taled

___________________________________________________________________

Hello Dee,

Concerning your question, you are not missing anything but your new boss may be.  Designating date of birth as a directory item does not mean the institution has to disclose it, it means it "may."  Importantly, however, if you want to use date of birth to match the search to a specific student (remember you cannot use SSN to search in response to a directory information inquiry), then you must have it designated as a "directory information" item.  Otherwise, the institution would need to use some other directory item for that search.

I hope this is helpful in responding to your question.
Sincerely,

The FERPA Professor