Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Important Points and Definitions

The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. The essence of the Act is that College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records.

Students have the right to:

  • Inspect and review their education records within a reasonable time period.
  • Request an amendment to education records they believe are inaccurate or misleading.
  • Consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in their records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of education records without the student's written permission unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted by the Act. Student records and directory information are accessible to members of the faculty and staff who have a legitimate need to know this information. The student must grant written permission to a parent or any other person who wishes to access educational records.

Institutions may disclose "directory" information without consent. However, students may request confidentiality of their directory information.

Questions concerning students' rights under FERPA should be directed to the Registration & Records Office or the Office of Enrollment Services.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

A federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their educational records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.

This act is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S.. Department of Education, Washington DC.  The Family Policy Compliance Office is the office within the Department of Education that administers FERPA and is responsible for providing technical assistance on FERPA to educational institutions.

Notes: FERPA is applicable to both K-12 and higher education. The Family Policy Compliance Office is responsible for both levels of education. 

The main difference in FERPA between these two levels of education is that the rights ascribed to the “student” at the higher education level are granted to the parents at the K-12 level. FERPA rights are granted to parents until their child reaches the age of 18 or begins attending an institution of high education regardless of age.

In the law, the term “eligible students” refers to a student who has gained FERPA rights. At Evergreen, once a student is offered or denied admission he/she is considered an eligible student. 

FERPA applies only to Education Records.

An Education Record is any record, with certain exceptions, maintained by an institution that is directly related to a student or students.  This record can contain a student’s name, or students’ names, or information from which an individual student, or students, can be personally (individually) identified.

FERPA covers records:

  • Handwritten, printed, electronic, film, stored on disk, microfilm, microfiche, tapes, or otherwise recorded;
  • Which personally identifies an enrolled student; and,
  • Are maintained by the school or an authorized party, which is shared or accessible to other school officials.

FERPA does not cover:

  • "Sole possession” notes
  • Law enforcement records created solely for law enforcement purposes
  • Records maintained exclusively for individuals in their capacity as employees
  • Employment records relating to individuals employed by the university (unless employment is contingent upon enrollment)
  • Medical records
  • Alumni Records

Personally Identifiable

Personally identifiable means data or information which include:

  • The name of the student, the student’s parents, or other family members
  • The student’s campus or home address
  • A personal identifier (such as a social security number or student number)
  • A list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student’s identity easily traceable

Directory Information

Evergreen defines directory information as:

  • the student’s name,
  • address,
  • telephone number,
  • dates of attendance,
  • date and place of birth,
  • major field of study,
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports, degrees,
  • the most recent educational institution attended by the student. 

Details regarding student records at The Evergreen State College are available on the College's Student Affairs policies web site.