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Special Collections & Archives

Retention Guidelines for Protected Data

Storage of University data on computers and its transfer across networks makes it easier to use and expands functionality. However it is also essential that all University data be protected. It is important to know what kind of data is protected and what security measures the data requires. This webpage describes the University's protected data, provides examples to help classify the data and the retention schedule for the data. It is critical that each individual accept responsibility for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and accuracy of data as (dictated or required) by state and federal law, and University policies and procedures.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Protected Health Information

In response to growing concerns about keeping health information private, Congress passed the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA requires agencies that maintain medical records to protect privacy and create standards for the transfer of health data. Agencies are required to follow certain rules to protect the privacy of medical records. Employees are not allowed to access health information unless they need the information to perform their jobs. The only accepted uses of health information are for treatment purposes, payment purposes, or for use for health care operations (e.g. quality assessment, licensing and credentialing, etc.). Any other disclosure of health information must be done with the patient's written consent. It is required that employees receive training on how to protect health information, whether that information is spoken, on paper, or on a computer.


Retention: While it is recommended that all medical records be kept forever, HIPAA does not impose a retention requirement. In circumstances where permanent retention is impractical, it is recommended that all medical records be retained for a minimum of 10 years after the last date of treatment, or 10 years after the patient reaches age of majority, whichever occurs later. When records are destroyed, it should be done in a manner that maintains confidentiality.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Student Records

In order to protect the privacy of student educational records and to allow students and parents greater access to education records, The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act was enacted in 1974. FERPA accomplishes this by requiring that schools keep education records confidential by preventing disclosure to third parties, and by requiring that schools have a policy in place for allowing access to parents and to students over the age of 18. For clarification purposes, educational records are defined as “those records, files, documents, or other materials which contain information directly related to a student, and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution”. In addition to educational records, FERPA forbids disclosure of “personally identifiable information”, such as student’s or parent’s name, address, social security number, or any other information that may reveal a student’s identity.



Student Loans: Records related to student loans, including application, approvals, disbursements, repayment, etc. Retain while active plus 6 years. Actual length of retention is at the discretion of individual departments as long as minimum requirements are met. Destruction of records should be done in a manner that maintains confidentiality.

Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act – GLBA
Personal Financial Records

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 relates to the protection of personal financial information held by financial institutions. The GLB Act broadly defines “financial institution” as any institution engaged in financial activities on behalf of consumers, and since higher education institutions engage in student loan processing, they are considered financial institutions under the Act. Protected information, however, goes beyond financial aid records. It includes all varieties of personal financial information collected by the university on faculty, students, staff, and others. Examples of protected financial information include financial aid records, credit card and personal check information, salary information and tax records. University offices that maintain protected financial information are required to identify themselves to the Information Security Officer at Computing and Telecommunications Services.


Retention: GLB does not impose a specific retention requirement for protected financial records, as retentions vary depending on type of record. For specific retention requirements, refer to departmental records retention schedules or the University General Schedule. Some examples are listed below.

Other Protected Information