FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) which, with its accompanying regulations and case-law, has the following key points as it relates to colleges and universities:

1 Grade data is very private

  1. It is illegal to share grade information with parties other than

    • course and university staff with a legitimate need for the information
    • the student in question

    Notably, this means you cannot share grade information with

    • other students
    • teachers or TAs of other classes
    • the student’s parents

    There are ways to grant access to these parties, but you should refer all such requests to the instructor of your course.

  2. Sharing is broadly defined, roughly as make access to possible; for example

    • emailing, even to the student, is sharing with the mail client – illegal
    • posting on a website, even encrypted, that is not hosted by a computer owned by UVA, is sharing with whoever later extracts data from a discarded hard-drive
    • sharing verbally with student, even when mostly alone, is sharing with anyone who is eavesdropping

Hence, we have rule 1:

Never share grade data with anyone except via official course channels.

2 Directory data is somewhat private

FERPA also prohibits sharing directory information, including

  • name
  • contact information
  • image
  • major, level, etc
  • course enrollments

However, these restrictions only apply in some situations. You don’t need to be worried about accidentally letting some of this slip, but remember rule 2:

Don’t volunteer directory information or answer questions about it.