EDUCATION RECORDS include any record maintained by the institution that contains information that is personally identifiable to a student (in whatever format or medium) with some narrowly defined exceptions:
Those data items that are generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if publicly available. The information cannot be released if a student has a “no release” on his or her record. Each institution establishes what it considers to be directory information. Common examples include: name, address (local, home and email), telephone (local and home), academic program of study, dates of attendance, date of birth, most recent educational institution attended, and degrees and awards received.
With reference to FERPA, the term “parent” refers to either parent (including custodial and non-custodial, if divorced).
A FERPA - related college education record begins for a student when he or she enrolls in a higher education institution. At a postsecondary institution, rights belong to the student in attendance, regardless of the student’s age.
Basic Rights of Student under the Act
Every institution must notify students of their FERPA rights at least annually.
INSPECTION AND REVIEW
FERPA does not prescribe what records are created or how long they are to be kept; however, you cannot destroy a record if there is a request to inspect and review. It is important to know and understand your institution’s records retention policy.
RIGHT TO CONSENT TO DISCLOSURE
Start with the premise that the student has the right to control to whom his or her education record is released. Then, there are several exceptions when that permission is not required.
In those instances where a signed release is required, regulations now provide the flexibility to accept an electronic signature.
When is the prior consent not required?
The institution may disclose records without consent if certain requirements are met, but it is not required to do so.
Some examples of the exceptions to the release requirement include:
FERPA rights at a postsecondary institution end with a student’s death. However, state law may provide for a continued right to privacy in your state. Students have a formal right to file a complaint with the Department of Education.