FERPA Overview

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What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from parents to students (“eligible student”). The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C. 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at 34 CFR Part 99. ©2004 ED.GOV

To Avoid FERPA Violation Do Not

  • Ever link the name of a student with that student’s social security number in any public manner
  • Discuss student record information with parents, spouse, or friends. Only the student can release information to a person who is not allowed record access by FERPA law.
  • Provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than college employees in finding a student on campus
  • Leave papers with SSNs/SID’s laying around
  • Leave Banner logged in when stepping away from your desk

What are education records?

With certain exceptions, a student has rights of access to those records which are directly related to him/her and which are maintained by an educational institution or party authorized to keep records for the institution. “Education Records” generally include any records in the possession of the institution which contain information directly related to a student, with the exception of those addressed below. FERPA contains no requirement that certain records be kept at all. This is a matter of institutional policy and/or state regulation. The records may be handwritten or in the form of print, computer, magnetic tape, email, film, or some other medium. FERPA coverage includes records, files, documents, and data directly related to students. This would include transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

The following items are not considered educational records:

  • Private records held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel
  • Law enforcement or campus security records
  • Records related to an individual’s employment by the institution (unless employment is contingent on a student’s status ie workstudy)
  • Medical Records
  • Records of an institution which contains information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution (ie alumni records)

If I am a parent of a college student, do I have the right to see my child’s education records, especially if I pay the bill?

As noted above, the rights under FERPA transfer from parent to student, once the student is over 18 or enters a postsecondary school at any age. However, although the rights under FERPA have no transferred to the student, a school may disclose information from an “eligible student’s” education records to the parents of the student, without the student’s consent, if the student is a dependant for tax purposes. Neither the age of the student nor the parent’s status as custodial is relevant. If a student is claimed as a dependent by either parent for tax purposes, then either parent may have access under this provision. ©2004 ED.GOV

What information may we release from the student’s record?

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or student in order to release any information for the education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34CFR 99.31)

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to the student
  • Organization conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school
  • Accrediting organization
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies
  • State and local authorities, within juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State Law

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow them a reasonable amount of time to request that schools not disclose this information. Schools must notify them annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of the school.

FERPA Information You May/May Not Give Out

Information you may give out

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number(s)
  • Address (it is recommended parent addresses not be allowed without written consent of the student)
  • Classification
  • Major
  • Dates of attendance
  • Pursued Degree
  • Enrollment status (full-time, half-time, etc) *actual number of credit hours is not to be given out
  • Degrees received
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Honours and awards received
  • Date of birth
  • Last school attended
  • Past and present participation in officially recognized sports
  • Academic standing (eligible to register)

Information you may not give out

  • SSN
  • Student ID number (after verification of the person’s identity you may give that out)
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Gender
  • Citizenship
  • Religion/Religious Preference
  • Grades
  • GPA
  • Class Schedule

FERPA Suggestions to Avoid Violation

  • Do not ever release the name of a student with that student’s SSN in a public manner
  • Do not ever discuss student record information with their parents, spouse, or friends. Only the student can release information to a person who is not allowed record access by FERPA law
  • Do not ever provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than a college employee in finding a student on campus
  • Do not ever leave papers with SSNs/SIDs laying around