FERPA for Students
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution regarding the release of student records and the access provided to those records. Generally, the law provides that, with some exceptions, no information, applications, forms, letters, records, transcripts, etc. may be released, whether orally or in writing, without prior written consent, dated and signed by the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons for release and to whom the records are to be released. The university’s policy on the privacy of student records may be found in the ASU Student Handbook and University Catalogs. The information below addresses specific questions regarding FERPA.
What are FERPA rights?
As a student, you have four primary rights under FERPA:
- The right to have some control over the disclosure of information from a student record (with certain exceptions provided by the law)
- The right to inspect and review student records
- The right to challenge or seek to amend student records under certain circumstances
- The right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office
When do FERPA rights begin?
FERPA rights begin when the student enrolls in a higher education institution. At a postsecondary institution, rights belong to the student in attendance, regardless of the student’s age.
What are education records?
Under FERPA, education records are defined as records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Education records can exist in any medium, including: typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email, among others.
What is directory information?
Directory information is information contained in the student record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information may be disclosed without prior written consent and includes:
- Student name
- Local and permanent mailing address
- Major and minor fields of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams
- Team photographs
- Dates of attendance
- Enrollment status
- Degree candidate
- Awards and honors received, type of award/honor
- Previous educational agency or institutions
Can a student restrict the release of directory information?
According to FERPA, while still enrolled, students can request that the institution not release any directory information about them. At ASU, students who wish to restrict the release of directory information about themselves must complete a Directory Restriction Form available at the Office of the Registrar, Room 200 of the Hardeman Student Services Center. The completed form must be submitted in person to the Registrar’s Office and must be accompanied by a photo ID. The restriction will remain in effect until the student withdraws the request in writing.
Students who wish to restrict the release of directory information should realize that this action could have negative consequences. All directory information will be held in confidence, which means the student’s presence at Angelo State University will not be acknowledged in response to routine inquiries. No directory information will be listed in print or electronic media, and the student’s name will not be published in the commencement program, Dean’s List announcements, honors, recognitions or newspaper listings. In addition, federal law prohibits our response to inquiries by employers or prospective employers for students who have this form on record with the Registrar’s Office.
Can parents access their student’s record?
At ASU, student records may be released to parents only if the student has created a FERPA/Proxy giving the parent(s) access to records, or in compliance with a subpoena. With the FERPA/Proxy, the student may also grant additional online viewing access to bills and tax information. The FERPA/Proxy will remain in effect until rescinded by the student. Watch the instructional videos to learn how to set up your FERPA/Proxy.
What about crisis situations or emergencies?
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an educational institution may release that information if it determines that the information is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of other parties to use the information to deal with the emergency. In the case of an emergency, contact the University Police at 325-942-2071.
Who should I contact for more information?
General questions may be directed to the Office of the Registrar or to the office responsible for the record in question. The Office of the Registrar accepts comments or suggestions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 325-942-2043.