Knowing Your Rights

FERPA Secures Privacy Rights of College Students



I was not aware of all the rights I gained when I started college until I heard about FERPA. I was surprised and relieved at the same time.

Parents and students are used to being able to have access to educational records of students. It is the way that it has always been. However, this right has its limitations.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) allows parents to have access to a student’s education records. However, this access only lasts until a student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.

For parents of college students over 18, this means that parents no longer have the right to view a student’s educational records. Parents can only access educational records if their student chooses to give them permission.

The following parties also have access to a student’s educational records:

  • School officials with legitimate educational interests
  • 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

Another right that FERPA provides to parents and eligible students is to restrict the disclosure of directory information. Directory information includes a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.

It is important to note that schools may disclose of directory information without the permission of parents or eligible students. The only obligation of schools is to notify parents and eligible students about directory information. They should be informed in a timely manner in case parents or eligible students choose to opt out of disclosing such information.

FERPA has another right that not everyone is aware of. If records are inaccurate or misleading, parents or eligible students have the right to request the records to be amended. If the school chooses not to amend the records; then parents or eligible students have the right to a formal hearing. If after the hearing the school still chooses not to ament the records; then the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with his/her records on his/her views of the information that was presented at the hearing and requested to be amended.

FERPA was created to protect the privacy of students and anyone who is attending an educational institution is notified annually of FERPA guidelines. Make sure you are aware what your rights are.


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