Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) afford an eligible student (18 years or older or attends a post-secondary institution) certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights are:

Access to Education Records
Under FERPA, a school must afford an eligible student’s the right to inspect and review his or her education records within 45 days following its receipt of a request. Student should submit to the registrar or head of academic department (or appropriate official) written request that identifies the record(s) he/she wishes to inspect. The school’s official will make arrangement for access and notify the student of the time and place where the record may be inspected. If the school’s official to whom the request was submitted does not maintain the academic records, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed. A school is not required to provide information that is not maintained or to create education records in response to an eligible student’s request.

Amendment of Education Records
An eligible student has the right to request that inaccurate or misleading information in his or her education records be amended. While a school is not required to amend education records in accordance with an eligible student’s request, the school is required to consider the request. The student should write to the school’s official responsible for the record, clearly identifying the part(s) of the record he/she wishes to have changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the institution decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the school will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of his or her right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedure will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

Disclosure of Education Records
A school may not normally disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student’s education records to a third party unless the eligible student has provided written consent. However, FERPA allows some exceptions and under these exceptions, schools are permitted to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent. Exception to prior written consent allows disclosure to “school officials” with legitimate educational interest. A school official is defined as a person employed by the school such as an administrator, supervisor, academic staff, researcher, counselor, disciplinary board, an attorney or support staff and a company or party with whom the school has contracted or outsourced institutional services or functions. FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records in connection with health or safety emergency and financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility, amount of aid awarded, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid. The school shall provide an eligible student with a copy of the records that were released if requested by the student.

Annual Notification of Rights
Under FERPA, a school must annually notify eligible students in attendance of the rights to inspect and review his/her education records, the right to seek to amend the records, the right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records and must define the terms “school official” and “legitimate educational interest.”

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