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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is a U.S. federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records by bestowing parents and/or eligible students with more autonomy over their education records, and prohibits educational institutions from disclosing personally identifiable information within education records without written consent from an eligible student and/or parent.

Are you subject to FERPA?

  • FERPA applies to any public or private elementary, secondary, or post-secondary school, state or local education agency that receives funds from an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Some parochial and private elementary and secondary schools may not receive funding under any program administered by the U.S. Department of Education, and are therefore not subject to FERPA.

Key obligations of FERPA

Annual notifications

All educational agencies and institutions shall annually notify parents and/or eligible students of their rights under FERPA, including the right to:

  • Access student education records;
  • Correct student education records;
  • Partial control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained within their education records; and
  • Consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained within the education record.

Right to hearings

Educational agencies or institutions shall establish procedures to provide parents and/or eligible students a hearing to challenge the content of the student’s education records where it is demonstrated that the education record is inaccurate or in violation of the privacy rights of the student. Educational agencies or institutions shall organize a hearing in a timely manner after it has received the request for a hearing.

Record retention

Educational agencies or institutions must retain a record of each access request to and each disclosure request of personally identifiable information from students’ education records. Records must include the:

  • Parties who have requested or received personally identifiable information from the education records; and
  • Legitimate interests of the parties for requesting or obtaining such information.

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The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Instead, all information, content, and materials presented are for general informational purposes only.

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