Student Financial Services

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

Tuition and fees at UT have nearly doubled in the last decade while the need for higher education is beginning to lose support among Texas voters.

According to the Office of Student Financial Services, the total cost of attending the University increased by $4,242 from 2008 to 2014. The total cost includes annual tuition and cost of living. As the cost of attendance has increased, so has the national student loan debt, which the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports is over $1 trillion.

Meanwhile, a recent UT/Texas Tribune poll showed 28 percent of Texas voters think a college education is necessary. This is down from 42 percent in 2010, according to the Tribune.

Wanda Mercer, UT System associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said tuition increases at most System institutions go toward hiring more faculty members and funding student support programs. Mercer said increases also allow for salary increases and accommodate for inflation.

At the University, tuition payments also include mandatory fees, which pay for services available to all students. Despite the lack of tuition revenue bonds — which are used to fund construction projects — in recent legislative sessions, Mercer said tuition increases do not usually go toward building costs.

Citing recent board decisions, Mercer said the regents have been resistant toward tuition increases.

“Our regents have been very, very careful about even allowing increases to be requested, and they’ve been even more careful in approving them,” Mercer said.

 

In 2012 and 2014, the Board of Regents decided not to increase undergraduate in-state tuition at the University. Both times, the regents did increase out-of-state undergraduate tuition by 2.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Up until those recent decisions, the regents had approved significantly higher increases over the past ten years. Supported by then-Chancellor Mark Yudof, the Texas Legislature passed a bill deregulating tuition in 2003. The bill effectively moved tuition decisions for the University from the legislature to the regents. Since deregulation, in-state tuition and fees have increased 80 percent at the University from $2,721 to $4,895, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Mercer said the increases were primarily to accommodate for reduced state funding.

“The legislature pulled back on its appropriations and said to the institutions, ‘it will be market-driven,’” Mercer said. “I don’t think they had any notion that campuses would then say ‘well, if you’re not going to provide the appropriated money, we will go to the students.’”

According to Mercer, System institutions would not operate as effectively as they do now if tuition was lowered to pre-deregulation levels.

“We would not be able to offer the classes in a timely manner that you need for graduation,” Mercer said. “They would have to cut the offerings by a significant amount. They would have to cut services. I’m just not sure it would move students toward graduation in most circumstances.”

Mercer said a System task force formed to find ways of reducing debt recommended incentivizing students to graduate on time in 2012. Jamie Brown, Office of Student Financial Services spokeswoman, said her office encourages graduating in four years to reduce the amount students borrow.

“One of the factors we’re pushing is that students need to graduate in four years,” Brown said. “For the Office of Student Financial Services in particular, it’s so that they don’t have to borrow as much.”

With UT below the national average in terms of students who graduate with debt and the average amount of loan debt in 2012, Brown said she thinks the University’s overall push to increase four-year graduation rates to 70 percent by 2016 is benefitting students financially.

Student Government president Kori Rady was one of seven student leaders on a committee developing the University’s tuition increase proposal to the regents over the past school year. The final proposal, approved by President William Powers, Jr., called for a 2.13 percent increase for in-state tuition and a 2.6 percent for out-of-state.

Rady said even if all proposed increases had been approved by the regents, the University would have still had a competitive tuition compared to peer institutions.

“I really do believe UT is one of the highest-valued colleges in the nation,” Rady said. “We’re definitely very competitive in terms of affordable colleges.”

Mukund Rathi, a computer science junior who has been vocal against tuition increases, said comparing the University’s tuition rates to peer institutions’ should not factor into increase proposals. 

“It’s pretty much irrelevant where other universities are right now,” Rathi said. “We should be doing what makes sense, regardless of how bad other universities are doing.”

 

Radio-television-film sophomore Carissa Bittle said that, at the end of every semester, she receives almost no reimbursement for textbooks she had paid hundreds of dollars for because her professors assign a new edition of the book every year.

“I bought three history textbooks. … One of them was loose-leaf, and [my professor] started using the new edition. … No one would buy it,” Bittle said. “If they’re going to require me to buy this, they should at least make it affordable.”

A bill currently up for debate in the Florida Senate would require undergraduate textbooks to be in use for at least three years at state institutions. Texas currently maintains no such policy.

According to an annual survey by the Office of Student Financial Services, in 2012-2013, students spent an average of $452 on textbooks — the highest it had been in five years of the office conducting the survey.

Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services, said he thinks it is important for textbooks to be up-to-date, but, if no crucial information changes between editions, he does not believe it is worth the extra money students are required to pay.

“I do think there is a balance that has to be struck between teaching outdated material and cost that students have to incur to get the high quality education they’re seeking,” Melecki said. “If there’s a small passage in one chapter that’s been updated, maybe that’s not the case.”

According to publishing company Scholastic, the four largest textbook publishers make a total of $4 billion per year in revenue. 

Government professor Brian Roberts said there is always new information being taught in his field that textbooks cannot keep up with, making immediate changes to textbooks unnecessary.

“I think, in the world of political science, there is certainly a place for classes to address certain current issues — whether that has to be in the textbook is a good question,” Roberts said. “There are core ideas about politics that do not require being repeated in the new edition every year.”

The Student Financial Services website includes a section called UT 4 Less that lists methods to limit student fees, including ways to “Slash Book Costs.” According to Melecki, the goal of the financial aid office is to do more than just award and distribute financial aid.

“I’d like us to be in a position to offer students guidance and counseling about how to be smart in their spending decisions,” Melecki said.

The Obama administration announced the FAFSA Completion Initiative earlier this month, a plan that will aid the Department of Education in identifying students who have not finished their applications for FAFSA and help them do so.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid — also known as FAFSA — is a form used by the Department of Education to determine the amount of need-based federal grants or federal loans a student might receive for college. In the 2011-2012 submission period, almost 22 million FAFSAs were submitted.

Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services, said there are a number of reasons students do not complete FAFSA, and among them is the students’ belief that they will not qualify for benefits.

“There are a lot of students who start the FAFSA, [and] then they have to ask their mom and dad to provide some data, and they say, ‘Don’t bother with that. We make too much money,’” Melecki said. “But, then again, it’s really difficult for them to know that.”

According to Student Financial Services, 64 percent of undergraduates submitted FAFSA forms last year, and 73 percent of those who applied received need-based financial aid. The total amount of need-based financial aid given in 2012-2013 was approximately $260 million, while the total amount of non-need-based financial aid given that year — including merit-based scholarships — was  around $82 million.

According to Melecki, FAFSA is operating better now than it has in previous years, but there are two things he said he would change: one would be to allow students to fill out the application two years prior to attending college, and the other would be to make the application a requirement.

“I’d be the first to admit that this might be a step too far, but I’d almost like to require every student to have to complete a FAFSA,” Melecki said. “There’s no institution in the country that does that, though.”

Journalism sophomore Ashley Lopez said the language found in FAFSA is enough to deter students from applying, but she believes everyone should fill it out, even if they are unsure whether they will qualify for aid.

“It’s confusing because it’s based off your parents’ tax info, and, if you haven’t looked at a W2 form or IRS forms, the terms are hard to understand,” Lopez said. “I think all people should [apply for FAFSA].”

Melecki said he is unsure whether Obama’s initiative will be successful and thinks there are alternatives to prompting more students to fill out the application.

“I think it would be even more effective if Congress would appropriate more money to put in the federal financial aid programs, so that students could equate completing the FAFSA with having a better chance of getting the best forms of federal student aid,” Melecki said.

A bill in the state Senate seeks to improve a zero-interest loan program that forgives loans for students who complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

The B-On-Time loan program was established in 2003 by a bill written by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. Zaffirini also authored the current bill to amend the program. The program provides zero-interest student loans that may be forgiven if students complete their degrees within four years for a four-year degree and five years for a five-year degree, maintain a 3.0 grade point average and do not exceed their degree plan by more than six credit hours.

In a statement issued to The Daily Texan, Zaffirini said the current legislation is a “shell bill,” meaning the bill does not include all intended elements and may be amended throughout the upcoming legislative session.

“Our goal is to ensure that more students who need help paying for college have access to this critical program,” Zaffirini said.

In its current form, the bill excludes students who attend community colleges and technical schools from the program. Zaffirini said the program has not been successful at two-year institutions because the program’s parameters are too narrow.

At UT, 954 students who enrolled in the B-On-Time program received an average loan of $5,955 during 2010-11, according to data provided by the Office of Student Financial Services. That year, the office issued almost $5.7 million in B-On-Time loans.

During the 2011 legislative session, the state reduced B-On-Time funding by $45.2 million. During the 2011-12 academic year, UT issued $3.8 million in B-On-Time funds to 595 students, averaging $6,392 per loan.

This year, 386 UT students received an average of $6,877 from the program out of a pool of about $2.6 million.

In March, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended increasing the yearly and credit hour graduation requirements for loan forgiveness and requiring the Texas Higher

Education Coordinating Board to set minimum credit requirements to obtain a loan through the program.

In response to the committee’s report, the Coordinating Board released a report in March recommending turning the loan program into a rebate program among other recommendations.

Efforts to increase participation in the program may not have the intended impact if federal law prohibiting the state and public institutions from marketing the program remains in place. In order to market the program, the federal government requires institutions to publish a preferred lender agreement that lists private lenders students may obtain loans from as an alternative to federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Zaffirini said she is working with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and other federal officials to request changes to federal regulations that limit institutions’ ability to market the program.

Thomas Melecki, Office of Student Financial Services director, said when the federal law was enacted in November 2011, it prevented additional state money for the B-On-Time program from being distributed to UT students.

“That really hurt us last year,” Melecki said. “If we had been able to educate students on the program, we could have dispersed another $2.8 million to students who needed the money.”

Printed on Wednesday, Dec. 5 2012 as: Zaffirini files outline of further loan specifics

University officials say UT could feel repercussions from the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to kick in as part of the fiscal cliff on Jan. 2, 2013.

If the U.S. Congress does not act, the expiration of five tax measures will cause $500 billion in tax increases and $200 billion in spending cuts. The drastic financial repercussions could put the country on a fiscal cliff by depressing an already sluggish U.S. economy.

Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services, said Congress’ inaction could reduce a percentage of funding awarded to the Department of Education, which in turn distributes funds to the programs it administers, including student financial aid programs.

“There’s very little outlining current law about what happens to financial aid programs if we go over the fiscal cliff,” Melecki said. “We’re reading everything we can about what might happen in Washington, but we’re scratching our heads like everyone else. One of my concerns is that changes might take effect immediately.”

Melecki said there will be no immediate cut to Federal Pell Grants, the University’s largest source of student grants, but federal loans and work-study funding could see cuts when students return to campus in January if federal spending is reduced by the fiscal cliff.

In 2011-2012, the University received almost $237 million in federal funding for financial aid programs, $9.6 million of which was Pell Grants distributed to 11,569 students based on financial need. Funding for federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans totaled $112.2 million, and $2.1 million was awarded as work-study.

One proposal to avert the fiscal cliff involves increasing the federal subsidized loan interest rate from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, Melecki said.

Last year, 1,122 UT students had work-study jobs and earned $3 million. Federal funding for the work-study program, which Melecki said has been suffering reductions every year for the past six years, pays 70 percent of a student’s salary. The University is responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

“My office employs 25 work-study students,” Melecki said. “If there’s a cut back in federal money, I don’t think we can afford to take that up [from 30 percent] to even 35 percent to maintain the same number of jobs if cuts are made.”

Mary Knight, UT associate vice president of financial affairs, said the University has no definitive details about potential cuts but is aware of the possible impacts on student financial aid, research and payroll.

“Payroll tax changes, [including] social security and withholding taxes, could impact [or] reduce faculty and staff take home pay,” Knight said.

In 2010, the payroll tax was temporarily cut from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The tax measure is set to expire at the end of 2012 and could cost the country $115 billion next year.

Federal research funding plays a vital role in research at higher institutions, but funding cuts related to the fiscal cliff could reduce grant money universities receive from major research agencies.

In 2011-2012, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded UT $166.4 million in research grants. The three government research agencies may each be subject to a 7.6 percent cut to mandatory spending and an 8.2 percent cut to discretionary spending.

“It is possible that funding for current federal grants could end before the research work is completed,” Knight said.

It is unknown if federal research agencies will implement cuts by eliminating existing grants, not providing new grants, providing less grants or cutting grants by a uniform percentage, Barry Toiv, vice president for public affairs for the Association of American Universities, said.

The Association of American Universities is a group of 62 public and private research universities, including UT, that advocates on issues important to research-intensive universities, including funding.

“What we do know is that considerably less research will take place,” Toiv said. “That is bad for long-term health advances, bad for national security and bad for the nation’s long-term economic growth.”

It’s an oft-heard complaint that UT-Austin, despite being a public institution, is receiving less and less state funding every day and is becoming unaffordable for the average student. State funding for the 2011-12 academic year dropped by 7.6 percent, according to a study conducted by Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. The state of Texas provided nearly half of all of UT’s funding in 1984, but since then that percentage has dropped to 13 percent. This has paralleled an equally dramatic rise in tuition.

Recently, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recommended that the state Legislature reduce the maximum TEXAS Grant amount from $5,000 to $2,900 and limit the grants to only four years. The board’s argument is that reducing the amount awarded would allow more eligible students to receive funding.

According to Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services, the University opposes the board’s recommendation.  Dr. Melecki insists that the University should be able to set its own TEXAS Grant amount as long as it does not exceed $7,400, the amount set by state law for the 2012-13 academic year. On Oct. 25th, the recommendations were approved to go to the Legislature, although there was an exemption made for degree plans that take more than four years.

When I spoke to Dr. Melecki, he insisted that it was not his intent to “just single out the Coordinating Board” and that he understands both sides of the argument. He understands the need to provide aid to as many eligible students as possible but insists that  $2,900 would not be sufficient for the students who do receive the TEXAS Grant. He warns that without sufficient money for each recipient, many students would have to work more, increasing the possibility that they wouldn’t graduate in the four years necessary to continue receiving the funds.

It’s worth noting that tuition and fees make up only 38.6 percent of the cost of attending UT, while room and board and other expenses like transportation make up 57.8 percent, according to Melecki’s testimony to the Senate Higher Education Committee in September. Tuition at UT has stayed far below the national rate. According to the Office of Student Financial Services, it  rose 3.99 percent in 2011-2012, compared to 8.02 percent for the national average (the national data used by Melecki comes from a College Board study titled “Trends in College Pricing”).

However, Austin is an expensive place to live, and those costs offset that difference. In his testimony, Melecki also  compared the total cost of attendance at UT-Austin with that of an unnamed  commuter university. The total cost for UT was $25,394 a year, compared to $13,863 for the other school. The reason for the difference? Students did not pay any room and board at the commuter university, while in at UT, students paid about $10,946. Melecki admits that in the case of commuter colleges, “$2,900 for the TEXAS Grants might be enough,” but he questions its effectiveness for a university with a cost of living as high as ours.

Both the Higher Education Coordinating Board and UT have legitimate arguments.  In today’s budget crisis, you can’t simply allocate more money to higher education at the expense of other programs. Either provide fewer students with more money (as Melecki proposes) or provide more students with less money in an environment of increasing education costs.

But neither solution strikes at the source of the problem, which is that Texans are not willing to make sacrifices to deal with our state’s budget problems. According to a 2011 Texas Tribune survey, the vast majority of Texans opposes cuts to treasured programs such as assistance to nursing homes, public education, higher education, and border security. At the same time, most Texans oppose revenue-raising measures like surcharges on gas guzzling vehicles (80 percent against) and legalizing and taxing marijuana (61 percent against).

We cannot solve our budget problems with cuts alone. We cannot simply reduce the amounts given in scholarships and somehow do more with less. As Texans, we all must work to balance our budget, even if it means contributing a little bit more in taxes.

Knoll is a Latin American Studies senior.

UT is filling a void in student financial aid with institutional grants after 60 students did not receive their Federal Pell Grants, a grant ranging from $555 to $5,550 for the neediest students, because of a change in federal policy effective this fall.

Thomas Melecki, director of Student Financial Services, said the University is still reviewing potentially affected students. He estimates UT will spend $250,000 in financial aid to students who were expecting Pell grants. Starting this fall, students nationwide can claim Federal Pell Grants for only 12 semesters instead of 18. The federal government implemented this rule to reduce spending on Pell grants by $11 billion over the next 10 years, cutting off students who had exceeded 12 semesters in school.

“We knew we had to act fast so these students wouldn’t be left without grant support they needed to pay tuition and other expenses,” Melecki said. “So we replaced their 2012-2013 Pell grants with grants from the University. By doing this, we made sure none of this year’s students who were counting on Pell Grants got hurt by the new law.”

Melecki said the U.S. Department of Education notified UT last spring. Beginning this past April, UT’s Student Financial Services published the information online and tried to notify students via Facebook and Twitter. The University is dependent on the U.S. Department of Education to inform it of those affected. Because UT does not have access to the Pell grants students receive from other colleges, it cannot easily come up with these names itself.

“The education department provided this information in early August, less than 10 days before UT-Austin Pell Grant recipients had to pay their fall tuition bills,” Melecki said.

While 60 students were affected this year, Melecki said he did not think too many UT students will be affected in the future because more than 80 percent of UT Austin’s undergraduate students graduate in 12 semesters. Melecki said the best way for students to avoid negative consequences would be to take 15 hours per semester.

Music studies junior Joey Ovalle said while he is on a Pell grant to help him pay for his college education, he does not think this reduction will affect him because he did not start taking out Pell Grants until a few years into his college education. But he does not think 12 semesters should be the maximum amount of time for students to use Pell grants.

“Only 12 semesters is going under the guise that you have everything figured out from the beginning of your college career,” Ovalle said. “I have a lot of friends who don’t like their majors now, but they can’t change it because they don’t think they can afford it.”

Brittany Lamas, a journalism junior who is also on a Pell Grant, said 12 semesters should be enough for any student to graduate.

“Even if you change majors, it should not take you more than six years to finish your degree,” Lamas said.

Printed on Friday, September 14, 2012 as: UT to fun tuition to fill Pell Grant gap

The Office of Student Financial Services must use current tuition rates to determine financial aid because the Board of Regents has yet to set a date for its 2012-2014 tuition setting meeting.

That means parents and University students may need to take out more in private loans next year if the UT System Board of Regents approves tuition increases at a Regents meeting with an undetermined date, said Student Financial Services director Tom Melecki. He said the office is working to get financial aid packages to recently accepted high school seniors by March 20 and to current students by April 9.

“If we award students financial aid on the basis of a higher tuition rate that does not materialize, then the students would be over-awarded and we would have to go back and reduce their aid,” Melecki said.

Melecki said if tuition is increased, it is possible that more parents will need to borrow federal direct parent loans to cover the cost.

“One of the reasons we believe that is because typically, even with the current cost, it is not unusual for a student to use all of their eligibility for a federal direct student loan,” he said. “We might have to ask mom or dad to take on a little bit more debt.”

On Dec. 15, President William Powers Jr. sent his recommendation to the Regents for the largest tuition increase the UT System will allow for the next two academic years. For in-state undergraduates, the recommended 2.6 percent increase translates into $127 more each semester in the next academic year. Every other student category would face a 3.6 percent increase. For out-of-state undergraduates, the increase will be between $560 and $642 more each semester next academic year.

Under state law, a percentage of tuition revenue must go towards need-based financial aid. Melecki said if the Regents increase tuition, then the Office of Student Financial Services will make adjustments to increase the number of University Tuition Grants given to needy students. He said the funding for these grants would increase by $2 million if the Regents approve Powers’ tuition recommendation. He said some federal loans are available that are not need-based.

Public relations junior Mathew Torres said he receives subsidized and unsubsidized loans that he puts towards food and rent. Torres said his father is overseas, so his mother provides the only source of income for the family. Torres said if tuition increases, he will most likely have to take out more loans from a private bank.

“It doesn’t make me happy, but if it’s what I have to do to get an education I’ll do that,” Torres said.

UT System spokesman Matt Flores said the UT System Board of Regents Office will not set a date for the tuition meeting until it thoroughly assesses Powers’ tuition recommendation.

“There’s a process, individuals look over the recommendations,” Flores said. “These aren’t decisions that are taken lightly.”

The Regents held a regular meeting Feb. 8 and 9 and a special called meeting on Feb. 24 when tuition rates were not discussed. The next regular meeting is planned for May 2 and 3. Flores said previously that the Regents have set tuition at both regularly set meetings and special called meetings depending on the year.

“We’re certain that it has to come soon,” Flores said. “Clearly it has to be done with enough time to get course schedules published so they’ll know how much they can expect to pay.”

Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Possible tuition raise would increase loan need.

Nutrition junior Eric Carrizales works at the Life Science Library as a work-study student. The number of work-study jobs in the U.S. may double because of President Obama's new budget.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

President Barack Obama’s new budget may double the number of work-study jobs in the U.S. and has caused excitement among UT officials, said Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services.

Melecki said 30 percent of UT work-study students’ salaries are provided by UT, while 70 percent is funded by the federal government. The amount of money given to the work-study program by the federal government has decreased over the past three years, said Melecki.

In 2009 the federal government gave $2,384,251 to the program, but the amount has been steadily reduced since then. Melecki said the federal government gave $1,885,934 to the program for the 2011-2012 school year and the Office of Student Financial Services hopes funding for the program will increase in the future, as indicated by Obama’s budget, released Feb. 13.

“Students are selected for work-study awards based on the federal government’s standard of financial neediness,” Melecki said.

He said UT officials attempt to give students grant money before offering work-study positions, but work-study allocations often help students limit the amount of loans they take out.

“Work-study is a terrific way to keep down the number of dollars a student borrows,” Melecki said.

Julianne Kasper, a work-study student and education sophomore, said she feels more connected to the campus community because of her work-study job at the Fine Arts Library.

“I’m the youngest person I know who works at the library,” Kasper said. “My co-workers know a lot about the UT campus, classes and professors and have given me a lot of useful advice.”

Kasper said that she would much rather have a work-study job than a job off-campus, because she felt her employer was particularly respectful of her obligations as a student. She said she thinks an off-campus employer might not appreciate her commitment to academics.

“If you have a test, they are usually really understanding,” Kasper said. “[My employers are] willing to work with my schedule. They also let me study and do homework at the front desk when I am not helping people in the library.”

Sarah Andrews, administrative assistant of the Hire-A-Longhorn Job Bank, said she works to connect work-study students with potential employers, on and off campus.

“There are about 300 jobs in the job bank, of which 60 are work-study jobs,” Andrews said.

Andrews said she works with students when there is a problem with their employment, but such situations rarely occur.

“Usually employers are very willing to hire work-study students,” she said. “The students themselves are very diligent and we hardly ever experience issues.”

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Obama budget plans to increase work-study job opportunities

Recent changes to the 1974 law that outlines privacy regulations for students’ personal and academic information may not be as dramatic as initially thought, said Tom Melecki, director of Student Financial Services.

The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act restricts student records from all parties without written consent, including parents. It applies to all institutions receiving funding from any program under the U.S. Department of Education. The act was recently revised by the Department of Education and will allow state and local education officials to share student information more easily without violating federal privacy law. However, the revision does not cause any change to the degree of privacy that student records enjoy, Melecki said.
“It mostly just clarifies some things that quite frankly we are already doing,” Melecki said. “It may be that there were some other institutions that weren’t doing this, and I won’t claim that we’re somehow smarter than other institutions. We just happened to already be doing these things.”

So far, Student Financial Services has yet to find any changes from the law that would cause records to be fully disclosed to government or other public institutions, Melecki said.

“If some board down in Congress said that we want a list of all of your students that want this kind of financial aid, we would certainly take exception to that,” Melecki said. “We could give them a count, but this would not open up the doors to the kind of sharing that would put private information at risk.”

The revisions will allow institutions greater control on how information is classified beyond simply public and private, said Jeff Graves, associate vice president for legal affairs.

“Before it was either directory information for everybody or for nobody,” Graves said. “What the new regulations do is say that directory information can be restricted to specific people or for specific purposes or for both. It basically says that we can have directory information that is only for specific groups of people, types of people or only for specific purposes.”

The law should mean little will change for students in the regular transmission of their records, said Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and registrar.

“I don’t think necessarily that changes to FERPA infer or imply that there is less privacy on behalf of the student records,“ Stanfield said. “Some people think that when there’s a change in policy that inherently means there’s going to be less stringent or less rigorous policies with respect to protecting student information and that’s not necessarily the case.”