What is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. These records include your name, address, social security number, grades, and other information about you. The law applies to all schools that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, which includes public schools and most private schools (including religious schools).
Families should know that certain information about their children must be kept private and confidential. This means that school officials cannot share it, or use it for any other purpose without written consent from the parent or eligible student.
FERPA also gives parents certain rights, including:
- The right to inspect and review their children's education records. Parents who wish to do so may ask to see their children's permanent records, such as report cards and transcripts, in person at the school office; or they may submit a request in writing to either the principal or the school official in charge of maintaining the records. Schools must allow parents access within 45 days of receiving the request.
- The right to seek amendment of their child's record if they believe it contains information that is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the student's privacy rights under FERPA. They must do so by requesting an amendment in writing from the school official who maintains their child's record.
According to FERPA, When and Under What Circumstances Can a Student’s Information Be Released?
For a school to disclose any information from your record without your written consent, it must be one of the exceptions under FERPA. In most cases, you do not need to sign a release form to authorize the release of information from your student records unless it is specifically required by the school. For example, if you want to release information about yourself or another student for use in an academic, scholarly, or journalistic activity or publication, then you must sign a release form.
If you are an adult student over 18 years old who has withdrawn from high school prior to graduation or who has graduated from high school after reaching age 18, there are no restrictions on access to your educational records. However, if you are still enrolled in high school at age 18 or older but have reached age 19 before graduating from high school or receiving an equivalency diploma that states that you have completed secondary education requirements for obtaining employment that requires postsecondary education credentials (such as college), then certain restrictions may apply.