Privacy of Student Educational Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of eligible students enrolled in a postsecondary institution in relation to their education records.

  • “Eligible student” is defined as a student 18 years of age or older, or a student who enters
    a postsecondary institution at any age.
  • “Education record” is defined as those records that contain information directly related to the student and that are maintained by the educational institution.

Specific FERPA Rights

The law provides eligible students with specific rights under FERPA:

  • The right to inspect and review information contained in their education records within
    45 days after the institution receives the request.
  • The right to request that a school amend records that are believed to be inaccurate or
    misleading; to have a hearing if the outcome of the request is unsatisfactory; and submit
    explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel that the decisions of the
    hearing panel are unacceptable.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (Family Policy
    Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW,
    Washington, DC, 20202) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with
    FERPA requirements.
  • The right to provide written consent prior to the institution disclosing personally
    identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that
    FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

Limitations for Record Review

There are times when FERPA does not require a school to disclose educational records for a
student to inspect and review, such as:

  • Education records of other students, even if they are contained within the same record of
    the student requesting the review.
  • Financial records of parents.
  • Confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission, employment, or
    academic honors.