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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. The essence of FERPA is to give a student the right to inspect his or her education records and to protect the privacy of these records. The statute applies to any educational agency or institution that receives funding under any program administered by the Secretary of Education.

What are education records?

Education records are defined as records which contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution. Examples are enrollment and grade records, applications for university scholarships, financial aid records, bursar records and information contained in the SIS system. Education records do NOT include: sole possession documents (such as personal notes or “memory joggers” created and maintained by individual faculty/staff); law enforcement records; employment records where employment is not tied to student status; medical records; and records containing information about an individual that are created after he/she is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records).

When do FERPA rights begin?

A student’s FERPA rights begin with his or her registered attendance at OPSU. Attendance need not be physical, such as in cases of correspondence and distance learning courses. Applicants who are denied admission or who are admitted but never attend are not covered under FERPA. There is no end point for FERPA rights—as long as the student is living.

Parental access to student education records

At the elementary and secondary school level, FERPA gives parents the right to access education records. When a student reaches 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education, FERPA rights transfer from parent to student. Therefore, at the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect their son’s or daughter’s education records.

Information regarding education records is best obtained by direct communication between the parent and the student. If desired, students can obtain grades, class schedule, billing, and other information online and provide a copy to their parents.

More information about FERPA