Student Privacy & FERPA Overview

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.

What are Education Records?

Education records are directly related to a student and maintained by an institution or its agent for all enrolled students, including those in high school. Education records can exist in any medium, including typed documents, computer-generated files, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and email, among others.

Education records include such things as graded papers, exams, transcripts, notes from a conversation with or about a student that are placed in a student’s file for others in the department to reference.

Education records DO NOT INCLUDE such things as:

  • sole possession records, i.e., records/notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person
  • peer-graded papers before the instructor has collected them
  • medical treatment records that include--but are not limited to--records maintained by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists
  • employment records unless employment is based on student status
  • law enforcement unit records
  • alumni records

Access to Student Education Records

According to FERPA, personally identifiable information in an education record may not be released without prior written consent from the student. Some examples of information that MAY NOT BE RELEASED without prior written consent of the student include:

  • university ID number
  • Social Security number
  • birthdate
  • grades/exam scores
  • GPA
  • current class schedule
  • parent name and address
  • race/ethnicity
  • gender
  • country of citizenship
  • religious affiliation
  • disciplinary status
  • marital status
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)

The university will not release personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent. Even parents are not permitted access to their son or daughter's education records unless the student has provided written authorization. Exceptions are noted in the university's policy concerning the privacy of student education records and includes: access by "school officials" whom the institution has determined to have a "legitimate educational interest;" access by school officials at other schools where the student seeks to enroll; access for the purpose of awarding financial aid and subpoenas.

IU Release of Student Information Policy

The Release of Student Information Policy was passed in 1977 to be in compliance with the federal law, FERPA.

Students have a right to know:

  • what information from education records school officials within the institution can obtain without obtaining prior written consent;
  • what the criteria are for determining who will be considered school officials;
  • what kind of legitimate educational interest will entitle school officials to have access to education records;
  • what information the institution has designated as public or directory information.
What is Directory or Public Information?

FERPA has specifically identified certain information called directory information that may be disclosed without student consent. Although directory information may be disclosed without student consent, under FERPA, IU is not required to release directory information.

IU has designated the following information as directory information and MAY release this information, unless the student has submitted a request for non-disclosure:

  • name
  • university email address
  • major
  • dates of attendance
  • admission or enrollment status
  • currently enrolled (Y/N)
  • campus, school, college, or division
  • class standing
  • degrees and awards
  • activities
  • sports/athletic information
Restricting Release of Directory Information

If a student does not want all or some of his or her directory information released to any person other than officials with legitimate need, he or she may complete and submit a restriction form to the Office of the Registrar. This restriction will also block information from appearing in the online address book. To remove the restriction, the student must complete a removal form and submit it to the Office of the Registrar.

Annual Notification to Students

The Office of the Registrar provides the Annual Notification of Student Rights under FERPA to students to inform them of their right to:

  • inspect and review their education records (within 45 days of a request);
  • request an amendment to their education records;
  • request a hearing if the request for an amendment is unsatisfactory;
  • request that the institution not disclose their directory information;
  • file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

This notification also reflects IU's policy on Student Rights Under FERPA.

FERPA Tutorial

The FERPA tutorial is designed to give IU staff a base-level knowledge of the rules governing release of student information. This tutorial must be completed before access to student records is granted. The tutorial will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. To begin the tutorial, please visit ferpa.iu.edu.

Questions?

Questions and comments regarding FERPA may be directed to the Office of the Registrar at registrar@indiana.edu or (812) 855-9349.