Retention Guidelines for Protected Data
University data is protected by state and federal law and University policies and procedures. Descriptions, classification examples and retention schedule recommendations of types of University's protected data follow below. Every University employee is responsible for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and accuracy of protected data. University employees should know what kind of data is protected and what security measures protected data require.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Protected Health Information
Congress passed the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 In response to growing concerns about keeping health information private. HIPAA requires agencies that maintain medical records to protect privacy and create standards for the transfer of health data. Agencies are required to follow 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. Accepted uses of health information include: treatment, payment, or for use for health care operations (e.g. quality assessment, licensing and credentialing, etc.). Any other health information disclosure requires the patient's written consent. Employees must fulfill training requirements for the protection of spoken, written, or digital health information.
- Patient's names
- Street address, city, county, zip code
- Dates (except year) related to an individual
- Telephone/fax numbers
- E-mail, URLs, and IP addresses
- Social Security Numbers
- Account/medical record numbers
- Health and beneficiary numbers
- Certificate/license numbers
- Vehicle IDs and serial numbers
- Device IDs and serial numbers
- Biometric identifiers
- Full face images
- Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code
- Payment guarantor's information
Retention: While it is recommended that all medical records be kept forever, HIPAA does not impose retention requirements. Archival guidelines recommend that all medical records should be kept forever. If permanent retention is impractical, medical records should 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.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act was enacted in 1974 in order to protect the privacy of student educational records and to allow students and parents greater access to education records. FERPA requires schools to keep education records confidential. Schools must prevent disclosure to third parties and must have a policy in place that provides access to records for students' parents and to students over the age of 18. 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”. FERPA also forbids the 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.
- Bursar information
- Credit card numbers
- Bank account numbers
- Wire transfer information
- Payment history
- Financial aid and grant information
- Student tuition bills
- Student records- permanent: Includes official academic records (including grades, course evaluations, competency assessments, etc.), change of grade forms, credit by examination forms, faculty grade reports, transcript requests (other than student requested). It is recommended to retain these records permanently, but the legal retention requirement is 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.
- Student records- non permanent: Records of students who matriculated, whether or not they earned a degree. Includes applications for admission/readmission, letters of recommendation, entrance examinations and placement test reports, advanced placement records, transcripts, transfer credit evaluations, etc. Also includes student placement and continuing education. The legal retention requirement for these records is while active plus a minimum of one year. 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.
- Student records- FERPA documentation: Records specific to FERPA, including requests for formal hearings, requests and disclosures of personally identifiable information, student statements on content of records regarding hearing panel decisions, students’ written consent for records disclosure, waivers of rights of access, written decisions of hearing panels, etc. Retain while active plus 3 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.
- Data/documents on applicants who do not matriculate: Records related to applicants who do not matriculate, whether denied admission or accepted and do not enter. Includes applications for admissions/readmissions, acceptance letters and other correspondence, letters of recommendation, entrance examinations and placement test reports, etc. Retain 1 year. 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.
Student Loans: Retain records related to student loans, including applications, approvals, disbursements, repayments, etc. while active plus 6 years. The length of retention is at the discretion of individual department as long as minimum requirements are met. Records should be destroyed using a method 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. Higher education institutions that process student loans are considered financial institutions under the Act. Protected information goes beyond financial aid records. It includes personal financial information collected by the university, faculty, students, staff, and others. Protected financial information includes 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 Computing and Telecommunications Services, Information Security Officer.
- Credit card numbers with/without expiration dates
- Bank account information
- Purchasing card numbers
- Social Security or taxpayer ID numbers
- Contract information (between WSU and third parties)
Retention: GLB does not impose a specific retention requirement for protected financial records. Retention schedules vary depending on type of record. For specific retention requirements, refer to departmental records retention schedules or the University General Schedule. Examples include:
- Accounts Receivable: Records related to amounts due on open accounts for goods and services provided. Retain while active plus 4 years.
- Accounting Journals/Ledgers: Records used to transfer charges between accounts and for summarizing all transactions. Retain while active plus 4 years.
- Donor files: Includes information on major donors, donor giving history, copies of checks, and correspondence. Retain indefinitely.
- Financial aid records- Files on financial aid recipients. Maintain while active plus 6 years.
- GLB documentation: Records that demonstrate compliance efforts of the institution and its individual units. Maintain for 2 years and until audited.
- Personnel Files: Employment records of part time and full time employees. May contain applications, copies of driver’s licenses, social security numbers, birth certificate, payroll and salary info, annual contracts, PERS forms, etc. Retain while active plus 6 years. Long term information maintained by Human Resources
Other Protected Information
- Advancement Information
- Graduation class and degree(s)
- Credit card numbers
- Bank account numbers
- Social Security Numbers
- Amount / what donated
- Telephone/fax numbers
- E-mail, URLs
- Employment information
- Family information (spouse(s) / children / grandchildren)
- Medical history
- Research Information
- Funding / sponsorship information
- Human subject information
- Lab animal care information
- Employee Information
- Social Security Number (including partials)
- Date of Birth
- Home address or personal contact information
- Benefits information
- Performance reviews
- Worker's compensation or disability claims
- Management Data
- Detailed monthly expenditures statements
- Detailed annual budget information
- Faculty annual conflict of interest disclosures
- University's investment information