What is FERPA?
FERPA is an acronym for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA is a federal law that affords students:
- The right to inspect and review the education record within 45 days of the day the University receives a request, Request to Inspect and Review Education Records
- The right to request the amendment of the education record if the student believes it to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of privacy under FERPA, Request to Amend or Remove Education Records
- The right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records, Request to Withhold Directory Information
- The right to notify the U.S. Department of Education concerning an academic institution’s alleged failures to comply with FERPA regulations.
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920
When do FERPA rights begin?
FERPA rights begin when a student becomes 18 or begins their career at any post-secondary institution.
Who is responsible for enforcing FERPA?
All members of the university community (faculty, staff, and students) who have access to student records are responsible for guarding the confidentiality of the records.
How are students informed of their rights?
- Registrar web page
- New Student Orientation
How do students limit the disclosure of directory information?
Students may limit disclosure by submitting a Request to Request to Withhold Directory Information form to the Office of the Registrar.
What is Directory Information?
FERPA defines directory information as information about a student that is not generally considered harmful if disclosed. Directory information may be disclosed unless the student has invoked the FERPA right to limit disclosure.
- Student name
- Local/permanent address and email address
- Telephone number(s)
- Dates of Attendance at Stetson University
- School or college, major, minor
- Degrees and Awards received at Stetson University
- Enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate level, full time or part time)
- Most recent previous education institution
- Participation in school activities and sports activities
- Photograph of student
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
What is NOT directory information?
- Social Security number
- Student ID number
- Grades/exam scores
- GPA (grade-point average)
- Student schedule
- Actual number of hours enrolled
- Academic history
- Academic standing
- Standardized test scores
- Date and place of birth
- Marital status
- Parent's name, address, telephone number
What is considered an education record?
FERPA defines education records as any record that directly relates to a student and is maintained by the educational institution or a party acting on behalf of the institution.
- Degree Audit Reports
- Schedules of Classes
- Class rolls
- Academic History reports
- Grade rolls
FERPA does not consider the following types of documents to be education records.
- Sole possession records, records kept in the sole possession of the maker
- Law enforcement records
- Employment records
- Medical records
- Post-attendance records
- Psychological or mental health records
What if a student wants the University to release Non-Directory information such as grades to a Third party?
The Transcript request form allows release of the academic transcript to a third party. Submit the transcript request form to the Office of the Registrar.
The Authorization and Consent to Release Education Records form allows non-directory information to be released to a third party. Submit this form to the university official or department who will be providing the information to the third party. This form can be used for letters of recommendation.
How does FERPA impact letters of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation can include personal observations and assessments of the student as long as the observations cannot be identified as an education record. Letters of recommendation can include such things as "excellent student," "participates in class discussion." A letter of recommendation cannot include grade information, such as GPA or letter grade unless written consent is obtained from the student.
Use the Authorization and Consent to Release Education Records form for consent to release. A student may view letters of recommendation unless they have waived their right of review.
When is prior consent not required?
A school may disclose "directory" education records without consent unless the student has submitted a Request to Withhold Directory Information form, or when:
- The student is seeking to enroll in another school
- The disclosure is to the parents of a student who is a dependent for income tax purposes
- The disclosure is in connection with determining eligibility, amounts, and terms for financial aid or enforcing the terms and conditions of financial aid
- The information disclosed has been designated as directory information by the university
- The disclosure is in response to a lawfully issued court order or subpoena
- The disclosure is to school official who have been determined to have legitimate educational interests
What is the responsibility of faculty and staff regarding student records?
- Do not release lists or files with student information to any third party outside of the College.
- Do not release student education records (other than directory information) without written consent of the student.
- Do not use student IDs or social security numbers in a public posting of grades.
- Do not link student names with IDs in any public manner, including student ID in the subject line of an email message.
- Do not provide a student schedule or assist in finding a student on campus.
- Do not provide progress/grades of a student to a third party without written consent of the student (including parents/guardians).
- Do not leave computers on with student information accessible.
Where can I find more information about FERPA?
More information about FERPA can be found at the website of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.