Student Rights

The University of Michigan complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that governs release of and access to student education records.


A student is an individual who is or has been enrolled in and attended credit bearing courses at the university and for whom the university maintains education records.

Education records include those records which contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by the university or by a person acting for the university. The following are not education records:

  • Records kept in the sole possession of the maker as a personal memory aid, 
  • Law enforcement records
  • Employment records relating to individuals employed by the university, except where employment is conditioned upon status as a student, 
  • Records related to treatment provided by a health professional when maintained solely for treatment purposes. 
  • Records created or received about an individual after that person is no longer a student if not related to that student’s attendance, e.g. alumni records
  • Materials in any admissions files, until the student has been admitted to, and has attended the University of Michigan-Flint for which the materials were submitted, and
  • All other records are excluded from the FERPA definition of Education Records. 

Directory Information may appear in public documents and may otherwise be released to individuals outside the university without the student’s specific consent, unless the student has opted out of disclosure as described below.

The University of Michigan has designated the following items as directory information:

  • Name
  • Address 
  • Email address
  • Uniqname 
  • Telephone number
  • UM school or college
  • Class Level
  • Major field 
  • Dates of attendance at the University of Michigan
  • Current enrollment status
  • Degree(s) received and date(s) awarded
  • Honors and awards received
  • Participation in recognized activities
  • Previous school(s) attended
  • Height and weight of members of intercollegiate athletic teams
  • Legitimate Educational Interest is the need to review an education record in order for a university official to carry out his or her responsibilities or to conduct learning analytics.

A university official is (i) any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position; (ii) a person elected to the Board of Regents; (iii) any person serving on an official university committee or assisting another university official in performing his or her tasks; or (iv) a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other person who is performing a specific task on behalf of the university. With regard to (iv), such person is considered a university official only if the task they perform is one for which the university would otherwise use its own employees and they are under the direct control of the university or university official with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from Education Records.

Authorized Disclosures of personally identifiable information from an education record without the student’s prior written (including authenticated electronic) consent may include but are not limited to: 

  • disclosures to appropriate individuals if the university determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals;
  • disclosures to a university official with a Legitimate Educational Interest;
  • permitted disclosures to state and local education authorities;
  • information in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid, disclosures for the purpose of accreditation;
  • disclosures to individuals or organizations conducting studies, including development and validation of predictive tests, for administration of student aid programs, or for improvement of instruction;
  • disclosures to parents of a student (a) regarding the student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or (b) if the university determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21, any rule or policy of the university, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance;
  • information forwarded to schools where the student plans to enroll or transfer; and
  • by judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. 

The University of Michigan does not routinely disclose information to parents without the student’s consent on the basis of the student status as federal tax dependents. State and Local Education Authorities may allow access to student records to third parties with written agreement in conjunction with the evaluation of federal or state supported education programs; including early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, judicial order, a reasonable attempt to notify the student will be made as quickly as possible unless the order or subpoena prohibits such notice. In addition, the results of a disciplinary hearing conducted by the institution against the alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence will be made available to the alleged victim of that crime.

Student Rights

As a student, you have the following rights concerning your educational records.

  1. The right to inspect and review your education records except: financial information furnished by your parents in support of an application for financial aid or an application for in-state tuition, confidential letters of recommendation that were placed in your file prior to January 1, 1975, and confidential letters of recommendation concerning admission, employment, or honorary recognition, for which you have waived access. (The university may not require you to sign a waiver in order to obtain services, but a person writing a recommendation may insist on a waiver as a condition for his or her writing it.) Education records are maintained in a number of university offices. Requests to review records must be made in writing to the responsible official of each office that maintains the records at issue. The responsible office will comply with the request within 45 days of its receipt.
  2. The right to request an amendment of your education records that you believe are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights. If you wish to request an amendment, you must submit a statement to the university official responsible for the record or contact the Office of the Registrar, clearly identifying the part of the record you want changed, and explaining why you believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of your privacy rights. That office will review your request and notify you of its decision. If it determines not to amend the records as requested, that office will advise you regarding appropriate next steps, which include the ability to request a hearing.
  3. The right to consent before the disclosure of personally identifiable information from your education records, except in the case of Authorized Disclosures. 
  4. The right to opt out of the disclosure of your directory information. Please note, the university does not routinely disclose directory information to third parties for marketing purposes. If you do not want the university to release those items designated as directory information, you must file a written request to that effect with the Office of the Registrar. However, you should carefully consider the consequences of that action before making the decision to do so. Information is not withheld selectively. If you choose to have directory information withheld, all items designated as directory information will be withheld from everyone who inquires unless disclosure is authorized under another FERPA exception. If you have requested non-disclosure of directory information and wish to repeal that request, you must file a written request to that effect with the Office of the Registrar.
  5. The right to file a complaint to federal officials if you believe that there has been a violation of the rights afforded you under the FERPA. The complaint must be submitted in writing within 180 days of the alleged violation to: 

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education 
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202

    Questions about the policies and procedures of any unit should be directed to the head of that unit. Questions about the university’s policies on Student Rights and Student Records or about the FERPA should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

Preferred Name Policy

You may prefer to go by a name that is different from your legal name. This name will appear on class roster, email display and most unofficial records and documents. The university allows you to do this by setting a preferred name. You must set the preferred name by filling out the Personal Information Update through your Student Information Systems (SIS) under the Personal Information tab. Some records, such as official transcript, financial aid documents, enrollment verification and paychecks require use of a legal name. Wherever possible, your preferred name will be used.

The university recognizes that as a community many of its members use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. As long as the use of this different name is not for the purposes of misrepresentation, the university acknowledges that a “preferred name” can and should be used wherever possible in the course of university business and education. Therefore, it is the policy of the university that any student, active or retired faculty or staff member, or alumni may choose to identify themselves within the university’s information system with a preferred name in addition to the person’s legal name. It is further understood that the person’s preferred name shall be used in all university communications and reporting except where the use of the legal name is required by university business or legal need. The individual is free to determine the preferred name he or she wants to be known by in the university’s information systems. However, inappropriate use of the preferred name policy (including but not limited to avoiding a legal obligation or misrepresentation) may cause for denying the request.

Legal Name Change

Students can change their legal name by providing appropriate documentation to the Office of the Registrar.

Employees can file a legal name change by completing the Address/Personal Data Form available on the HRRIS forms online page or contact Human Resources.