As a student, you may have heard of FERPA, but under this law, you are in fact entitled to view all of your student records for free.

Your admissions file is considered part of your student records, and therefore must be made available to you at no charge within 45 days.

Why should I/should I not request my file back?

Before requesting your file, please note that it is not for the faint of heart to read. The file will not make sense unless you understand how the UT admissions process works. This video provides an explanation.

If you understand how the UT Admissions process works and wish to see the scores that they have calculated for you, this is the method of doing so.

Note that the file contains information that is mostly already known to you. Only a few metrics, which are likely foreign to you, can be seen through this. See a sample file first before thinking about making a request.

Sample files

Some students were kind enough to provide their admissions file for reference purposes. You can see what their admissions file looks like:

Sample 1: Class of 2023 in-state student admitted to Unspecified Business, McCombs School of Business. [PDF]

You should view this before requesting your file back to see if you really want to go through with the process. The process typically takes several weeks and requires a lot of tedious work on UT's behalf, so there is no point in requesting it if the file will not provide any meaningful information to you.

What's inside?

Your admissions file contains all the data that UT Admissions has on file for you. There are five important values:

  • HS Percentile: your percentile class rank
  • REV PGPA Current App: Predicted GPA that UT calculated for you.
  • REV Units Plus: Whether you got 0.1 bonus points added to your AI.
  • AI Grid Value: your Academic Index score
  • PAI Grid Value: your Personal Achievement Index score

The last two are the most important. In order to admit students, UT Austin first determines each student's Academic Index and their Personal Achievement Index scores. Then, the student is placed on a 2D graph, with the x-axis being the AI score and the y-axis being the PAI score. The students who are in the sectors of the graph with the highest AI and PAI scores are admitted.

This process is detailed in this document. Specifically, refer to pages 31-35. In addition, the process is also detailed in this paper on pages 30-33.

I've made a video that describes how AI and PAI are calculated and how they will be used to determine admission.

AI scores are determined by a multiple regression equation that calculates a "predicted GPA" (PGPA), which takes into account your class rank and SAT/ACT scores. The PGPA is truncated to the nearest tenth and that is made your AI. A bonus of 0.1 points ("units plus") is added to your AI if you took more than what UT required. The exact process may be different for recent admits, since these papers are from years ago, but the admissions process for the Class of 2023 continued to use the AI and PAI method.

Recently, we were able to use linear regression to compute the AI formula that UT Austin currently uses. Check out the AI calculator to see what your AI is.

Unfortunately, there are no comments about you associated with the admissions file, but quantitative data was still provided, such as the day of admission to UT and honors program admissions status updates.

Don't understand what it says? FERPA requires that an educational agency or institution respond to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of education records, per 34 CFR ยง 99.10(c).

How to obtain it

Update (April 11, 2019)

Admitted students who have not yet paid their enrollment deposit are eligible to receive their admissions file on request. Simply follow the below procedure. Please note if you do not use your @utexas.edu email address, you may need to return a notarized form to confirm your identity.

First, you must have been admitted to UT. FERPA stipulates that the university only needs to handle these requests from current students. If you were accepted but aren't yet a student, I previously suggested you should wait until August to make this request. However, recently the university released files to admitted students who have not yet paid their enrollment deposit, meaning you may do so once you are admitted. Unfortunately, there is no way for denied applicants to view their files.

At The University of Texas at Austin, these requests are handled by the Open Records Office. To make an open records request for your student records, you should send an email like the following from your @utexas.edu email address (so confirming your identity is easier):

To: cfo@austin.utexas.edu

Subject: Request to view my personal records held by the UT Austin Office of Admissions

To whom it may concern,

Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g), I write to request access to and a copy of all documents held by The University of Texas at Austin Office of Admissions, including without limitation a complete copy of any admissions records kept in my name in any and all university offices, including without limitation the qualitative and quantitative assessments of any 'readers', demographics data, Academic Index and Personal Achievement Index values; any e-mails, notes, memoranda, video, audio, or other documentary material maintained by the Office of Admissions.

FERPA prohibits the imposition of a fee to review documents (per 34 CFR Sec. 99.11(b)).

If you choose to redact any portion of any documents responsive to this request, please provide a written explanation for the redaction including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I understand that I may have previously waived FERPA rights pertaining to recommendations provided through ApplyTexas or the Coalition Application. Be advised that, if selected, this waiver pertains solely to recommendations provided through ApplyTexas or the Coalition Application.

As per 34 CFR Sec. 99.10(b), these records must be made available for my inspection within 45 days of this request.

I look forward to receiving a full response within 45 calendar days.

For reference, my UT EID is .

Thank you.

Be sure you give them your EID; I've left you a blank in the above text for you to fill out.

Handling a notarization request

Occasionally, the Open Records Office may ask for you to notarize a form to confirm your identity. If your EID has not been upgraded or if you don't know what an "upgraded EID" is, notarizing the form will be necessary. If your EID is upgraded, you don't need to send in a notarized form. You can send the following response if that's the case:

Hello,

My EID is and has been upgraded. This email, @utexas.edu, is associated with my EID. This means all electronic communication from my university accounts are legally binding and should suffice to identify me for my data. You may share my data with me on UT Box to ensure I am accessing my data through my EID, but there is no need for me to notarize to confirm my identity.

Thank you.

There is no risk or harm in requesting your file. Retaliation against students who exercise their rights under FERPA is illegal.

Footnotes

The UT System whitepaper on "best admissions practices" gives insight to what the data means.

The message I sent to the Open Records Office was first created by a Stanford satirical newspaper back in 2015 when there was an influx of admissions files requests at Stanford and Yale. It was simply modified to fit UT's specific situation and was not written by me. (Source)

The preceding information solely reflects the interests and opinions of the author and does not reflect those of the University of Texas at Austin.

Last updated: May 4, 2019