What you should know aboutFERPA
Office of Academic & Student AffairsBoard of Regents of the University System of Georgia
This presentation is designed to give a brief overview of FERPA as it relates to the academic records of students. Any questions regarding specific matters should be referred to the Registrars Office on your campus. The Office of Legal Affairs should be consulted when necessary. FERPA should not be confused with the Open Records Act or Solomon Amendment.
What is FERPA and for what purpose does it exist?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended (FERPA) is a federal law. The purpose of this law is to afford students certain rights pertaining to their educational records.
Does FERPA apply to applicants?
FERPA does not apply to applicantswho are denied admission or to thoseapplicants who were accepted but didnot attend.
Does FERPA apply to all students?
FERPA applies to all students who attend post-secondary institutions.
Briefly, what does FERPA guarantee?FERPA gives students the right to inspect and review their own recordsto request amendments to their record to have some control over the release of personally identifiable information from their records
Who is responsible for seeing that FERPA is upheld?
Generally speaking, all employees who have access to records are responsible for guarding the confidentiality of student records.Specifically, requests for access to records, requests for amendment of records, and complaints regarding any violation of FERPA are typically filed with the institutions Registrar.
What is meant by Disclosure of Information?Permitting access to or the release of personally identifiable information to any party. This includes any communication by oral, written, electronic or any other means.Schools are not allowed to disclose information (other than Directory Information) without the students written consent except under very limited conditions.
How are students made aware of FERPA?
Although we are required to notify students annually regarding their FERPA rights, the methods used to communicate this information are left up to the school. Notification at most institutions is done minimally through the catalog and the website.
What is Directory Information?
"Directory Information" is information not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This often includes:
Name, address, e-mail address and telephone listingLevel (graduate or undergraduate)Field of study (major)Dates of attendanceDegrees and date awarded"Directory Information" cannot include student identification numbers or social security numbers.
Can a student prohibit release of Directory Information?Yes. Students who wish to discuss the prohibition of release of "Directory Information" should contact the Registrars Office.Students can also request that their record be marked as Confidential to prohibit release except under limited circumstances.
How can I know if a student has asked that information not be released?
The students computerized record will have notation of such displayed at the top of every form, such as CONFIDENTIAL. Students who wish to not have directory information displayed on the web or in printed directories will have a special code, such as RNP Request No Print in Directory in their computerized record. No one should generate lists with student information without checking to see if any students have their record flagged as CONFIDENTIAL or have requested that directory information not print.
Are parents exempt from FERPA restrictions?
No. Parents do not have the right to access records of students over the age of 18 at the post-secondary level. Not even if they are paying all tuitionexcept in these three cases: 1. They have the written consent of the student.2. In response to a subpoena (the student must be notified that records were released).3. They can prove that they claimed the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax form.
Can Information Be Released if a Students Record is Marked Confidential?Yes, if you have one of the following:1. Students Written Request2. Subpoena3. Copy of Federal Tax Form Claiming the Student as a DependentHOWEVER, no information should be released without one of the items listed above!
What should you do if you are not sure if you can release information?When in doubt, saying nothing is your best optionDont play the Guessing GameIt is far better to NOT release information than to release information incorrectly
Which requests should you forward to the Registrars Office?All requests for transcripts - only the Registrars Office can generate an official transcript Certification requests - verification of enrollment for lenders, health insurance, student car insurance discount forms, etc.Questions regarding the academic record of any student
Lets See How FERPA Smart You AreA father calls and asksfor his sons grades. Hecan fax a copy of histax return proving thatthe student is hisdependent. Can yourelease the grades?Only if you can know withcertainty that you arespeaking to the father(very hard to do over thephone).Suggest that his son ordera transcript to be mailed tothe fathers address.
How Would You Respond To...An author requestsacademic informationon Jimmy Carter. Sinceall of PresidentCarters records arealready a matter ofpublic record, can yourelease the information? No, FERPA rightscontinue even after astudent is no longerenrolled.
FERPA rights DO endupon the death of astudent.
OK, What About
A student asks to seehis records. You notice that he has a hold forparking fines. Can youmake him pay the finebefore viewing hisrecord?No, students have theright to view theirrecord even if they owemoney. Can he have acopy of his transcript? No, the institution is notrequired to release acopy if the student owesmoney.
But Its An Emergency...A County police officer calls you because she needs to find a student. She has been looking for the student for a week, but cant catch him at his residence hall room. Can you give her the students schedule? If shes been looking fora week, its not anemergency! The release ofnon-directory information is appropriate only ifnecessary to protect thehealth or safety of thestudent or other individuals.
One Last ExampleThe Baptist Student Union affiliated with your institution asks for a list of all new international students and their country of origin so that they can invite them to a dinner during the holidays. OK?
Although the thought is a nice one, country of origin is not considered Directory Information. The BSU affiliates are not considered to be school officials and should be treated like any outside party.
Know Everything Now???No one can possibly know every detail of FERPA and how it is to be applied.
When in doubt, DONT release information!
Failure to comply with FERPA can not only cause legal difficulty for your institution, but have human resource implications as well.