How the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) is a
Federal law designed to protect the privacy of students' education
records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an
applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives
parents certain rights with respect to their children's education
records. These rights transfer to the student, or former student,
who has reached the age of 18 or is attending any school beyond the
high school level. Students and former students to whom the rights
have transferred are called eligible students.
- Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and
review all of the student's education records maintained by the
school. Schools are not required to provide copies of materials in
education records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is
impossible for parents or eligible students to inspect records.
Schools may charge a fee for copies.
- Parents and eligible students have the right to request that a
school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If
the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible
student has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if
the school still decides not to amend a record, the parent or
eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record
commenting on the contested information in the record.
- Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent
or eligible student before releasing any information from a
student's record. However, the law allows schools to disclose
records, without consent, to the following parties:
- School employees who have a need to know
- Other schools to which a student is transferring
- Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a
- Organizations conducting certain studies for the school
- Accrediting organizations
- Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoena
- Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety
emergencies; State and local authorities, with a juvenile justice
system, pursuant to a specific State law
Schools may also disclose, without consent, directory type
information such as a student's name, address, telephone number,
date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of
attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible
students about directory information and allow parents and eligible
students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not
disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify
parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA.
The actual means of notification (special letter, student handbook
or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.
For additional information, please contact the Family Policy
Compliance Office at 202-260-3887 or TDD 202-260-8956 or through