Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records.
FERPA requires that the USF representatives who have access to your student records are only those who need it to do their job. For example, your instructor will only have access to the academic information related to the course they are teaching.
Academic Advisors have access to their students' academic records. With access to those records comes responsibilities. We are expected to maintain the privacy of your records, which means only discussing your academic history with you, or those to whom you willingly provide access.
Giving Access to Your Student Records
As a student, you have the right to share your academic information with others. Students may provide access to third parties (like their parents or spouse) by submitting the Student Record Access Authorization form to the USF Office of the Registrar.
Family Members and Advising
Parents and other family members often offer or are asked by their students for assistance. CAS Advisors recognize that family members are great advocates for their students, and we seek to partner with them when and where we can. Students are always welcome to include their family members in academic advising, which could mean inviting a parent to an advising appointment or CCing their significant other in an email to the advisor.
Because Academic Advising is about the student making informed decisions, we cannot provide student academic advising without the student present. To ensure that our student's privacy is maintained, when a family member approaches CAS Advisors for assistance without the student, we will:
- Provide general information about academic policies and procedures without revealing student specifics.
- Ask that the student contact us directly for specific information.
- Inform family members that they are welcome to attend advising when the student has invited them.
- Add the student's email into an email chain about a specific student.
Theses actions are done to protect the privacy and safety of your/our students and the integrity of the advising process, regardless of whether an authorization form is on record.
Privacy vs. Confidentiality
Students will provide personal information so the advisor can assist them in planning. Advisors will maintain a student's privacy, but cannot provide confidentiality like medical or professional counselors. In fact, Advisors are required to report criminal activity, like unlawful discrimination and domestic violence.
If you need a confidential resource to discuss a difficult situation, please contact USF Counseling Center or the USF Center for Victim Advocacy.
Other Private and Confidential Info at USF
Health Information Privacy (HIPAA)
HIPPA privacy rule is a federal low giving you rights over your health information and who can have access. Academic Advisors do not have access to any of your health records kept with USF Student Health Services, or anywhere else on campus.
If you have a health concern that is impacting your academics, you can select to reveal that information with an academic advisor so they can provide you with the appropriate referrals. Remember, CAS Advisors will respect and maintain your privacy, but there are situations where we cannot provide confidentiality.
Accommodations for Disabilities
The Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office provides privacy and confidentiality. SAS even has their own release of information form specific to the records they keep for students.
CAS Advisors will not be aware that you have registered with the SDS Office for academic accommodations.
Many of our students have 'invisible' or hidden disabilities, and many of those are unaware of resources available to them. If we hear you say things in an advising appointment (or if we see trends in your academic history) that suggest you have an academic challenge related to a disability, we will ask you questions so we can make referrals or recommendations that will assist you.
You are not required to reveal this information to your academic advisors, but we hope you will, especially if it is impacting your academics. If you do, CAS Advisors will maintain your privacy. CAS Advisors participate in Accessibull Disability Ally training so they can lean how to be an ally for Students with Disabilities.
For purposes of financial aid, students also share financial information with the university. This information is also on an educational need-to-know basis. Because Academic Advisors do not deal directly with the cost of a USF education, they do not have access to your financial information.
CAS Advisors will not be aware of what financial aid you have received, or what conditions are required of you to maintain your financial aid. It is your responsibility as a student to know the information regarding the academic conditions you need to meet in order to receive and continue receiving financial aid and scholarships.
Financial Wellness is an important part of a student's ability to be successful while at university. While academic advisors do not need to know specifics about your financial situation (like how much you or your parents make), knowing general information will help your CAS Advisor provide the appropriate guidance. If you are willing to share general information, academic advisors will incorporate your financial wellness into your term registration and graduation plans.
Title IX and Diversity, Inclusion & Equal Opportunity
Title IX is a federal civil rights law specifically addressing issues of sexual violence in an educational setting.
The USF Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Equal Opportunity (DIEO) provides oversight for processes related to harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence.
USF Academic Advisors are mandated by law to report any incident they become aware of that may constitute sexual harassment, sexual violence, and any unlawful discrimination related to disability, gender, or race. Advisors report this information to the appropriate DIEO representative, who is trained to investigate and handle the complaint.
CAS Advisors participate in regular trainings related to Title IX and mandatory reporting for unlawful discrimination. Additionally, they participate in trainings and professional development to learn about the many issues faced by our diverse student population. Participating in programs like Safe Zone Ally, UndocuALLy, and Implicit Bias are examples of how our academic advisors work to be informed and increase their interpersonal communication to provide positive and effective advising.