Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of personally identifiable information contained in a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all schools (K-12 and postsecondary institutions) that receive funds under various programs from the US Department of Education. The Act affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. They are as follows:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day FIU receives a request for access. Students should submit to the Registrar or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The appropriate FIU official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where records may be inspected.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading. Students may ask FIU to amend the record that they believe is inaccurate or misleading. They should write the Registrar, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If FIU decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, FIU will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.
FERPA protects the privacy of personally identifiable information contained in a student’s educational record. FERPA defines “educational records” as records containing information in any medium—paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.—that directly relate to a student and are maintained by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution. The information listed below is not considered part of an educational record and thus is not regulated by FERPA. However, the information may be regulated or protected by other federal and state laws.
The following are never designated as directory information: student social security numbers, citizenship, gender, religious preference, grades, and GPA.
Items not considered part of an educational record include:
- Records kept in sole possession of the maker that are not accessible or revealed to any other person except as a temporary substitute;
- Certain law enforcement records;
- Employment records that relate exclusively to the individual as an employee; and
- Records that contain only information about an individual after s/he is no longer a student.
Conditions for which student records can be disclosed without consent; generally, schools must have written permission from the student (or parent, if the student is a minor) in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose educational records without consent under special circumstances.
The US Department of Education’s summary of the FERPA regulations lists the following conditions under which student records can be disclosed without consent:
- 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 a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies;
- State and local authorities within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law; and
- Directory information
FERPA’s definition of “directory information” is information contained in a student’s education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. FERPA permits the following to be designated as directory information: the student’s name, address, and telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; dates of attendance; grade level; enrollment status (e.g. undergraduate or graduate, full- or part-time); and the most recent educational institution attended. The following are never designated as directory information: student social security numbers, citizenship, gender, religious preference, grades, and grade point average (GPA).
Under FERPA students are also given the opportunity to file a request to prevent disclosure of directory information (“opting out”). If a student opts out, FIU will not release any information on a student. For Additional Information contact the Office of the Registrar at (253) 752-2020 ext. 132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.