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Here’s how FERPA protects the privacy of your education records

Student speaks with counselor at Pacific's one-stop student center in Knoles Hall.
FERPA protects your privacy and allows you to take responsibility for your own education at Pacific. 

Have you heard the term FERPA, but aren’t sure what it means or how it applies to you? Understanding FERPA will help you to learn how Pacific keeps your education records private and secure.  

Here’s what you need to know about FERPA before you start at Pacific. 

What is FERPA? 

By federal law, Pacific can only release your education records with your written permission. Once you register and start attending classes, the privacy of your records is protected by University of the Pacific’s Student Records Policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).   

In other words, when you transition from high school to college, you become the only person who can access your education records (unless you choose to give other people access).   

Why does Pacific need to comply with FERPA and why does it matter?  

FERPA is a federal law which applies to all schools that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA is important because it protects your privacy and allows you to take responsibility for your own education and future. 

What exactly are education records?  

Basically, education records are any documentation directly related to a student and maintained by the university, or sometimes by a party acting for the university.  

Here are a few examples:  

  • Grades 
  • Coursework 
  • Records indicating progress toward a degree 
  • Student financial accounts or any personally identifiable information 

Can Pacific release the information protected by FERPA?  

Pacific must follow very specific guidelines to release that information. Only you can give your parent or guardian access to your information. This consent must be written, signed and dated. It must also specify the records to be disclosed and the identity of the recipient.  

If your family needs to access your education records protected under FERPA, you’ll need to contact Pacific’s Registrar’s Office to obtain the Authorization to Disclose Confidential Information form as soon as you register for classes. After the completed form is submitted, the authorization will remain effective until you rescind it in writing.   

If it is necessary to protect your health or safety (or that of others), Pacific has guidelines to disclose your information under special circumstances. Those guidelines are also determined by University of the Pacific Student Records Policy and FERPA. For instance, to determine if the disclosure under special circumstances is necessary, Pacific will consider:    

  • Seriousness of the threat to health or safety   
  • Need for the information to meet the emergency   
  • Whether the individual(s) to whom the information is released can deal with the situation   
  • Extent to which time is of the essence 

How can parents make tuition payments in compliance with FERPA? 

In compliance with FERPA, your financial record may not be shared without your consent. Because of this, Student Accounts staff will not disclose any information regarding a student to anyone unless they have been listed as an authorized user.    

So, if your parent or guardian will be making tuition payments on your behalf, you will need to add them as an authorized user so they can sign into your account. Authorized users/payers are family and friends who have been given the ability to access your account information.   

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to add someone as an authorized user.   

  1. Login to   
  1. Locate the “Balances” widget and click “check/pay balances.”   
  1. Under “My Account” section, select send a payer invitation.  
  1. Fill in the name and email address, check the access to statement box, and send the invitation    
  1. The system will send out an email to the authorized user’s valid email address with a temporary password. Note: They will have 24 hours to create an account.   
  1. Once the account is set up, the authorized user can access Transact and view, manage or make online payments to your account.    

If you have additional questions, contact the Registrar’s Office at 209.946.2135 or You can also visit Pacific’s FERPA Compliance page to learn more about the policy. 

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