Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Purpose: To inform students and their parents about federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational records.

Overview

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational 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 when he/she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

  • Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's educational records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
  • Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records that they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his/her view about the contested information.
  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's educational record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
    • School officials with legitimate educational interest
    • Another school to which the student is transferring
    • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
    • Appropriate parties in connection to the student’s financial aid
    • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school
    • Accrediting organizations
    • In compliance with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
    • Appropriate officials in cases of health or safety emergencies
    • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law(s)

Directory Information

Schools may disclose, without consent, directory 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 (a special letter or inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of the school.

For additional information or technical assistance, call 202-260-3887 (voice). Individuals who use TDD may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

Or you may contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), which is responsible for the administration of FERPA.

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920