FERPA - Student Rights
FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
All student educational records are maintained according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) concerning the information, which becomes part of the student's permanent record, and governing the conditions of its disclosure. Students have the right to see their records and to request an amendment to those records.
Only directory information can be released without the student's authorization. A student must sign a release in order to have any other information disclosed or to withhold all information. Education information may be released to other institutions that have requested the records and in which the student seeks or intends to enroll. Information may be released to a third party without student's consent if an emergency situation exists or if information is requested officially by means of a subpoena, court order or legal report. Additionally, Congress requires student information to be released to military recruiters if officially requested.
Directory information may include the following:
- Telephone number
- E-mail address
- Major field of study
- Dates of attendance
- Enrollment Status
- Degrees and Awards Received
- Participation in officially recognized activities or sports
- Height and weight of athletes
Directory information does NOT include:
- Social security number
- Student identification number
- Class schedule
FERPA grants eligible students* the right to:
- View and inspect their education records. Photocopies are not covered by FERPA.
- Be granted the opportunity to correct or delete any inaccurate, misleading or inappropriate information contained in their education records.
- Insert into their education records a written explanation about the content of such records.
- Challenge in a hearing the content of their education records, to ensure that they are not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights.
- Nondisclosure without prior consent of their education records, or of any information in those records that could reasonably reveal the eligible student's identity. FERPA allows nonconsensual disclosures of education records under certain limited circumstances.
- Receive notice before their directory information is made public if the educational institution they attend plans to release that information from their education records.
- Request nondisclosure of directory information without prior consent.
- Be notified when an educational institution receives a subpoena or court order requiring disclosure of their education records before the institution complies with the request, except when such disclosure is prohibited by law or the authority issuing the order.
- Be notified by the educational institution of their rights under FERPA.
*Eligible students are those who 1.) turn 18 years of age or 2.) begin attending an institute of post-secondary education.
FERPA broadly defines education records, encompassing any "records, files, documents, and other materials" that:
a. contain information directly related to the student; and
b. are maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a person acting for such agency or institution.
These items are considered part of the student's education records:
- Admission records
- Registration activity
- Cumulative academic records
- Class assignments
- Records of attendance
- Grades or Grade Point Average
- Test scores
- Financial Aid records
- Disciplinary records
- Health and counseling records
- Documentation of special services students receive
- other similar information/records
The following are specifically excluded from the definition of education records by FERPA:
- Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the record's maker.
- Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational institution that were created for the purpose of law enforcement.
- Records created or received by an educational institution after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and that are not directly related to the individual's attendance as a student.
- Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher.
Education records can be in the form of, but not limited to:
- Magnetic Tapes
- Computer media
- Video or audio tape
Below are some frequently asked questions that may not have been covered previously on this page.
Q. Does a college student's parent have rights under FERPA?
A. No. Parents lose their FERPA rights when their child turns 18, or starts attending college, or any post-secondary institution - whichever happens first. However, a student may give their parent the right to access his/her educational information by filling out a release of confidential information form. These must be turned in by the student, with photo ID, to each individual office.
Q. Do an eligible student's FERPA rights ever expire?
A. For the most part, no, although death does terminate the FERPA rights of eligible students. As long as the educational institution maintains the student's education records, the eligible student retains the right to review or amend their education records, or consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information.
Q. Is a high school student who also attends college an eligible student?
A. Yes. If a student is attending a post-secondary institution - at any age - the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both high school and college at the same time, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the post-secondary institution to the high school.
Q. Does an eligible student's spouse have FERPA rights when it comes to the student's education records?
A. No. A spouse is an unrelated third party as far as FERPA is concerned. For example, if the student wanted the spouse present during an inspection and review or education records, the student would have to execute a written consent to allow spousal review.
Q. Do noncitizen students have FERPA rights?
A. Yes. FERPA rights apply to citizens and noncitizens alike. However, students studying under a visa may be required to consent to release of certain information to the US Department of Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Q. Must a document identify a student by name to be an education record?
A. No. FERPA regulations make it clear that information can be considered "personally identifiable information" even without identification of the student by name.
Q. Can an organization other than an educational institution create an education record?
A. Yes. FERPA defines education records in terms of maintenance by educational institutions or agencies. Nowhere in the statute or the regulations does FERPA mandate that education records originate at educational institutions or agencies, although most do.
Q. Are the employment records of students in attendance, who are employed by their college, education records?
A. It depends on the characterization of the student's employment. Records relating to an individual in attendance at the institution, who is employed as a result of his/her status as a student, are education records. Likewise, employment that is not a result of the employee's status as an enrolled student are excepted from the definition of education records under FERPA.