FERPA quick facts

FERPA law:

Schools may not disclose personally identifiable information about students nor permit inspection of their education records without written permission from the student, unless such action is covered by certain exceptions permitted in the Act.

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FERPA protects:

  • Students under 18
  • Current students
  • Former students

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FERPA rights:

  • Right to inspect, review, and amend records.
  • Third parties do not re-disclose information
  • Notify students annually of FERPA rights
  • Right to limit disclosure of records

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Who can access student records?

  • The student and outside party with student’s written consent
  • A person with lawfully issued subpoena or court order
  • Parents of a dependent student
  • School officials

This act does not protect deceased students or persons who have applied but not attended.

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Institutions shall obtain written consent from students before disclosing any personally identifiable information from their education records. Written consent must: specify the records to be released, state purpose of the disclosure, and identify the party or parties to whom disclosure may be made.

Emails are NOT acceptable way to receive written consent.

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Who Is A School Official?

  • Employed by the college in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position.
  • Elected to the board of trustees.
  • 3rd party companies employed by or under contract with the college to perform a special task such as the attorney, auditor, or collection agency.
  • Student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official.

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Directory information:

  • Student Name—Current and Former
  • Local/ Permanent address
  • Local/ Permanent telephone
  • E-mail address
  • Degrees received
  • Major and minor field of study
  • Grade level
  • Enrollment status
  • Dates of attendance; including previous schools
  • Weight/ height of athletic teams
  • Athletics: Participation in recognized activities & sports

Note: If an item of student information isn’t defined or listed as “directory information”, then it isn’t directory information. Also, it can only be released with the student’s written permission, or if the release can be justified under one of the exemptions to students’ written permission found in FERPA.

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Non-directory information

  • Social Security Number
  • WSU ID number
  • Race/ ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Citizenship
  • Nationality
  • GPA
  • Grades
  • Academic standing
  • Religion
  • FAFSA information

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Spouses and FERPA

A spouse is considered an unrelated 3rd party as far as FERPA is concerned. They cannot conduct business for the student without written consent.

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Parents and FERPA

May not obtain non-directory information (grades, attendance, GPA, etc.) unless they file a “Declaration of Dependence” form with the Office of Registration and Records and bring proof the student is legally their dependent. This form must be updated each year. WSU will notify the student that such a form is on file.

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Educational records

Any record from which a student can be personally identified. Here are a few examples: files, documents, and materials in whatever media (handwriting, print, tapes, disks, film, microfilm) containing information directly related to students.

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Information from a student’s educational records not normally considered a violation of a student’s privacy if disclosed without student permission.

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Filing a complaint

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Family Policy Compliance Office

The office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

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Additional resources on FERPA

The Department of Education has provided some useful information for schools, students and parents regarding privacy laws and school safety. Please read this brochure for more information. Also, additional information for parents regarding FERPA may be found at the Department of Education website.

The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 requires all postsecondary institutions participating in federal student aid programs to disclose campus security policies and certain crime statistics. Yearly statistics on campus crimes must be provided to students, faculty, and prospective students. The WSU Police Department publishes an annual disclosure report.

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Learn more at ferpa.em.wsu.edu.