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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

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FERPA is a U.S. federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)[1] is a U.S. federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights are transfered to the student when they become 18 or when they attend a school beyond the high school level.


Under FERPA, parents or students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. They can request corrections of inaccurate or misleading information held in the records.


For the most part, the disclosure of information from a student's record requires wrtitten permission from either the parent or student. However, there are several exemptions where schools can disclose information in a student's education record.  These exemptions include:

  • School officials (e.g. teacher, contractor for outsourcing purposes) that have legitimate educational interest
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes
  • 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
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law
  • Directory information (e.g. student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance).  Although notice of such directory and an opt-out feature must be given to parents and students.


United States v. Miami University[2]

Gonzaga University v. Doe

Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo

J. Marshall Osborn and Center for Equal Opportunity v. Bd. of Regents of the University of Wisconsin

Bates College v. Congregation Beth Abraham, et al.

Caledonian-Record Publishing Co., Inc. v. Vermont State Colleges


  1. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/20/1232g.html
  2. http://counsel.cua.edu/FERPA/fedlaw//cases.cfm

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