What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs.
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
- To parents of a student regarding the studen'ts violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school
Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, course catalog, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.
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FERPA at Bryn Mawr
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, the College does not release directory information to anyone outside the College community, but directory information may be verified if supplied. A full description of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is available on the FERPA website.
Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of directory information by supplying written notification. Forms requesting the withholding of directory information are available in the Registrar’s Office. Written notification must be received by the end of the first week of classes.
More Information about Privacy & FERPA
FERPA and Electronic Records
- A college counsel looks at how FERPA applies to electronic records: A Few Things about E-FERPA- Stephen J. McDonald, Educause, 1/28/13
- A discussion of FERPA regulatory revisions in 2011 designed to balance student privacy with institutional data collection and analysis needs: New FERPA Rules Promote Education Reform and Enable Increased Accountability and Transparency- Rodney Peterson, Educause, 12/14/11
- These articles discuss recent controversy surrounding student data collection & cloud-based hosting in the K-12 arena (Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)
Student Privacy and Class Blogs:
- This article is targeted at those involved with primary education, but still raises some useful points about using student photos online in higher education: We Should Talk- Are You Using Student Photos Online?- Sue Waters, The Edublogger, 9/26/13