The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records. It also provides guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student education records. Through FERPA, students' rights are broadly defined and applied.
Therefore, students are considered the "owners" of their education record information, and the institution is considered the "custodian" of those records.
What rights does FERPA afford students?
- The right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days from when the university receives a request for access.
- The right to request an amendment to the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate or misleading.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests.
The university designates the following items as directory information:
- all addresses, including university-issued email addresses
- all telephone numbers
- major field of study
- academic classification
- participation in officially-recognized activities and sports
- weight and height of members of athletic teams
- dates of attendance and enrollment status
- degrees and awards received
- previous schools attended
- and your photograph.
Students have the right to restrict directory information. When this occurs, the Office of the Registrar can't confirm a student attends SFA or release any information regarding the student.
To request directory restrictions, students must contact the registrar's office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authorization to release information
Students may choose to grant access to their educational records to other individuals by completing the FERPA Authorization form in mySFA.
- Log in to mySFA.
- Select the "Academics" tab.
- Locate the "Academic Records" block.
- Select the "FERPA Authorization form" link.
Follow the instructions to complete and submit the required documentation. Once submitted, students can follow these steps again to view the details of their information. Authorizations are usually effective 15 minutes after the form is successfully submitted.
Current students or alumni unable to access their mySFA account must contact the registrar's office by emailing email@example.com for assistance.
Important information for parents/guardians
When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution (whichever occurs first), FERPA transfers the right of academic-records access to the student. This removes automatic access by parents/guardians and limits the Office of the Registrar's ability to provide confidential information by phone, fax or email to anyone, even the student.
Parents and guardians are considered a third party and therefore may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution.
Requesting access to student records of dependents
Students can submit a FERPA Authorization form on their mySFA and authorize whomever they would like. As an alternative, parents/guardians may request access to their dependent's student records, including academic and financial, by completing and filing the Certification of Dependency form and providing the registrar's office with a copy of the first page of the filer’s federal income tax return.
Note: This process can be overridden by the student if the student restricts directory information.
Even with a completed and filed Certification of Dependency form, registrar's office staff members remain limited in their ability to provide confidential information by phone, fax or email to anyone, even the student.
FERPA and Class Recordings
FERPA does not prohibit instructors from making recordings of virtual lectures or class sessions available to students enrolled in the course. However, sharing the recordings beyond students in the course generally requires prior written consent. Students cannot be compelled or required to give consent, though the instructor may edit students out of the recording or de-identify them even if a student refuses to consent.
Links for Additional Information about FERPA
- FERPA Basics for Staff (PDF)
- FERPA Case Studies for Staff (PDF)
FERPA is administered by:
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-8520