FERPA Basics

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. See: U. S. Department of Education - FERPA. Educational institutions receiving funds under programs administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education are bound by FERPA regulations. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

A few key components of the law include:

  • College students must be permitted to inspect their own education records
  • Once a student begins attending a university, the rights transfer from the parents having the right to inspect and review a student's record to the college student.
  • School officials may not disclose personally identifiable information about students, nor permit inspection of their records, without written permission from the student, unless such action is covered by exceptions permitted by the Act. A notable exception is disclosing information to school officials determined by the institution to have a legitimate educational interest.

What are the student’s rights under FERPA?

Students are informed of their Student Rights under FERPA annually which include, the:

  • Right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of a request
  • Right to request an amendment of the education records that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading or in violation of the student’s privacy rights
  • Right to provide written consent to disclose personally identifiable information from their records
  • Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by IU to comply with FERPA requirements

What are education records?

Education records are directly related to a student and maintained by an institution or its agent for all enrolled students, including those in high school. Education records may exist in any medium (e.g., electronic or digital files including email, paper documents, fax documents, oral conversations, etc.). Education records include such things as personal identifiers and bio-demographic data (such as SSN, date of birth, ethnicity, gender, relationship information) and also academic records such as test scores, GPA, graded papers, exams, transcripts, advising notes, financial aid information, etc.)

What is directory information?

Directory Information is specific information kept about the student that is considered public. This information may be released without the student's written permission. Directory information at IU includes:

  • Name
  • Hometown (City, State, 5 digit zip only)
  • IU E-mail address
  • Dates of attendance
  • Admission or enrollment status
  • Campus, school, college, division, major
  • Class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior)
  • Degrees and awards
  • Activities
  • Athletic information

The student may opt to restrict the release of this directory information by contacting the Office of the Registrar on their campus.

What else do I need to know about FERPA?

Indiana University is committed to the protection and confidentiality of student education records adhering closely to the guidelines established by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Our Release of Student Information Policy complies with FERPA and governs how we disseminate student educational records here at IU.