Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Protecting our students and ourselves
If you have access to student records, you must carefully review the material presented in this online tutorial. Maintaining confidentiality of student records is everyone’s responsibility.
Because the Federal Government requires us to do so and because it is the right and just thing to do
- What is FERPA?
- What is a Student Educational Record?
- What is NOT a Student Educational Record?
- Basic Rules
- What is “Legitimate Educational Interest”?
- “Don’ts” for Faculty
- TAKE A QUIZ
What is FERPA?
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (sometimes called the Buckley Amendment). Passed by Congress in 1974 and amended several times since, the Act grants four specific rights to post-secondary students:
- the right to inspect and review the student’s educational records that the institution keeps on file
- the right to request an amendment of the records believed in error
- the right to prohibit disclosure of personally identifiable information, except where FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
- the right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education regarding alleged failures in compliance
What is a Student Educational Record?
Just about any information provided by the student to the college for use in the educational process:
- personal information
- enrollment records
- transcripts and grades
- financial records
The storage media for this information does not matter. Student educational record may be:
- a document in the registrar’s office
- a computer printout in your office
- a class list on your desktop
- a computer display screen
- notes you have taken during an academic advising session
What is not a Student Educational Record?
- instructional, supervisory, administrative or personnel records made for the sole purpose of the maker and not accessible to anyone else
- law enforcement records or information collected by Campus Security (however the Foley Amendment of 2000 states that institutions may disclose information to parents of students under age 21 regarding a violation of laws or rules involving alcohol or controlled substances.)
- employment records maintained in the normal course of business (except when employment is based on the individual’s status as a student (e.g., work-study, student assistant or intern)
- doctor-patient privilege records
- information collected by the college after the student was enrolled (e.g., alumni records)
- Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
- As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.
- Some information is considered public. Such “Directory Information” can be released without the student’s written consent. However, the student may request that this information be considered confidential as well.
- As a GC employee, you have access to student information only for legitimate educational interests in completion of your responsibilities as a college employee.
- If ever in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar at (574) 535-7515 or e-mail at email@example.com. The Office of the Registrar is responsible for the maintenance and release of student record information.
What is “Legitimate Educational Interest?”
Legitimate educational interest is established if the “school official” (faculty, administrator or staff) has a need to access an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility to the college.
Some “Don’ts” for faculty
To avoid violations of FERPA, please do not:
- at any time use the entire Social Security Number of a student in a public posting of grades
- at any time link the name of a student with that student’s Social Security Number in any public manner
- leave graded assignments or exams in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
- 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 Goshen College employees in finding a student on campus