There is some information about students that is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. FERPA defines this information as directory information and gives institutions discretion over the release of these items.
Each institution establishes what it considers to be directory information. Common examples include: name, address (local, home, and e-mail), telephone (local and home), academic program of study, and date of birth. Directory information cannot include: race, gender, SSN (or part of an SSN), grades, GPA, country of citizenship, or religion.
Every student must be given the opportunity to have directory information suppressed from public release. When a student suppresses their information, everyone within the institution must abide by a student's request that no information be released about the student.
It is important to understand that a "no release" does not mean that a school official within the institution who has demonstrated legitimate educational interest (e.g., a faculty member teaching the student in a class) is precluded from using the information to perform that official's job duties.