Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) is a United States federal law that governs the access of educational information and records.

FERPA gives parents access to their child's education records, an opportunity to seek to have the records amended, and some control over the disclosure of information from the records. With several exceptions, schools must have a student's consent prior to the disclosure of education records after that student is 18 years old. The law applies only to educational agencies and institutions that receive funding under a program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Other regulations under this act, effective starting January 3, 2012, allow for greater disclosures of personal and directory student identifying information and regulate student IDs and e-mail addresses.

Examples of situations affected by FERPA include school employees divulging information to anyone other than the student about the student's grades or behavior, and school work posted on a bulletin board with a grade. Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record.

This privacy policy also governs how state agencies transmit testing data to federal agencies. For example see Education Data Network.

This U.S. federal law also gave students 18 years of age or older, or students of any age if enrolled in any post-secondary educational institution, the right of privacy regarding grades, enrollment, and even billing information, unless the school has specific permission from the student to share that specific type of information.

FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records of an "eligible student" (a student age 18 or older or enrolled in a postsecondary institution at any age) to his or her parents if the student is a "dependent student" as that term is defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, if either parent has claimed the student as a dependent on the parent's most recent income tax statement, the school may non-consensually disclose the student's education records to both parents.

The law allowed students who apply to an educational institution such as graduate school permission to view recommendations submitted by others as part of the application. However, on standard application forms, students are given the option to waive this right.

FERPA specifically excluded employees of an educational institution if they are not students.

The act is also referred to as the Buckley Amendment, for one of its proponents, Senator James L. Buckley of New York.

FERPA and access to public records
The misapplication of FERPA to conceal public records that are not "educational" in nature has been widely criticized, including by the act's primary Senate sponsor.

FERPA and student medical records
Legal experts have debated the issue of whether student medical records (for example records of therapy sessions with a therapist at an on-campus counseling center) might be released to the school administration under certain triggering events, such as when a student sues his college or university.

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