What is FERPA?

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (34CFR99), also known as the Buckley Amendment, protects the privacy of student records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding. What are the rights given to students?

  • The right to see the information that the institution is keeping on the student
  • The right to request corrections to their records if they believe the content is inaccurate, misleading, or a violation of their privacy rights.
  • The right to consent to disclosure of his/her records
  • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington

Who is Protected Under FERPA?

  • Students who are currently enrolled in higher education institutions regardless of their age or parental dependency status. Students who applied but have not attended an institution are not protected.
  • Former students.

What are Student Education Records?

  • "Education records" are those records which are directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. "Education records" do not include files made by and kept in the sole possession of the maker which are not accessible to any other person.
  • Just about any information provided by a student to the university for use in the educational process is considered a student educational record.
    • personal information
    • enrollment records
    • grades
    • schedules
  • The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. The same principles of confidentiality must be applied to electronic data as apply to paper documents. Student educational records may be:
    • a document in the Registrar's Office
    • a computer printout in your office
    • a class list on your desktop
    • a computer display screen
    • notes you have taken during an advisement session
  • With certain exceptions, a student has rights to those records which are directly related to him/her and which are maintained by an educational institution or party authorized to keep records for the institution.

What is Not Included in an Education Record?

  • Letters of recommendation placed in files prior to January 1, 1975, which were intended to be confidential and used only for the purpose for which they were prepared.
  • Records of parent's financial status.
  • Medical and psychological records. Medical and psychological records are not available to anyone other than those providing treatment, but can be reviewed by a physician or licensed professional of the student-patient's choice.
  • Some items of academic record under certain conditions. Certain documents may carry waivers, signed by the student, relinquishing the student's rights of access to the document.

Who May Have Access to Education Records?

  • Student records are open to members of the currently employed University faculty and staff who have a legitimate need to know their contents, with the following provisions/restrictions:
  • The University faculty or staff member must be performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or by a contract agreement, OR performing a task related to the student's education, OR providing a service or benefit relating to the student such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.
  • The determination of a "legitimate need to know" will be made by the person responsible for the maintenance of the record. This determination must be made scrupulously and with respect for the individual whose record is involved.

What are the Basic Rules?

  • Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
  • As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.
  • Some information is considered public (sometimes called "Directory Information"). This information can be released without the student's written permission. However, the student may opt to consider this information confidential as well.
  • You have access to information only for legitimate use in completion of your responsibilities as a university employee. Need to know is the basic principle.
  • If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you talk to the office responsible for student records. Call Andreas Kindler, Registrar at (309) 677-3098, or refer the request to that office.

What is Directory Information?

Directory information is defined by each institution using guidelines established by FERPA. Bradley University has defined the following as directory information:

  • Student’s full legal name
  • Photograph
  • Local, permanent address and e-mail
  • Telephone listing
  • Parent name and address (for news releases only)
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Class and full-time/part-time status
  • Approved candidacy for graduation
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Most recent educational institution attended
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and heights of athletic team members
  • Birth date (will be validated only when furnished by the inquirer for positive identity of the student)

Institutions may disclose directory information on a student without the student's prior consent unless the student has signed a request to limit its release.

Special "Don'ts" for Faculty

To avoid violations of FERPA rules, DO NOT:

  • At any time use the Social Security Number or ID number of a student in a public posting of grades
  • Never link the name of a student with that student's Social Security Number or ID number in any public manner
  • Leave graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
  • Circulate a printed class list with students name and ID number or grades as an attendance roster
  • Discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents) without the written consent of the student
  • Provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose
  • Provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than university employees in finding a student on campus