Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called the Buckley Amendment). Passed by Congress in 1974, the Act grants four specific rights to a college or university student:
- the right to see the education records that the institution maintains on the student
- the right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases append a statement to the record
- the right to consent to disclosure of his/her education records
- the right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C.
- FERPA protects education records of students who are or have been in attendance in postsecondary institutions.
- FERPA does not protect records of applicants who did not attend that institution.
A student education record consists of information about a student which is maintained by any employee, department, school, or the university/college for use in the educational process and includes, but is not limited to:
- personal information
- enrollment records
- financial records
- emails to, from, or about a student
Information contained in a student education record may be found in different storage media such as:
- a document
- a hard copy computer printout
- a computer display screen
- handwritten notes
- a photograph, film, or video
A student education record does not include:
- alumni records
- medical treatment records
- personal notes to which only the maker of the notes has access
- work records, unless the individual’s employment is dependent on being a student
- Student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
- As a faculty, administrator, or staff member you have a responsibility to protect all items contained in an education record of a student.
- You have access to student education records and the information contained therein only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a college employee. Need to know is the basic principle.
- Some personally identifying information regarding a student is considered “directory information.” This information may be released without the student’s written permission, and is usually done through the Office of the Registrar. Students may choose to consider this information confidential by filing a Request to Withhold Disclosure of Directory Information with the Office of the Registrar.
- Always refer requests for student information to the Office of The Registrar.
To avoid violations of FERPA, DO NOT:
- Publicly disclose the name of a student and that student’s social security number, University ID number. Illustrations of how these rules may be violated include:
- Using social security number or University/college ID number of a student in a public posting of grades
- Leaving graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
- Circulating a printed class list with student name and ID numbers, or grades as an attendance roster.
- Discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents) without the consent of the student
- Provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose
- Provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university employees in finding a student on campus
- Submit a student’s paper to an anti-plagiarism service without first removing the student’s name, ID number, or any other personally identifiable information