The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law passed in 1974 to help ensure that educational records are kept private while guaranteeing access to the records for students and their parents. All schools, colleges, universities and educational institutions and agencies that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education must comply with FERPA regulations.
Read the full text of FERPA.
- Institutions may not disclose information from a student’s education records without the student’s written consent, with some exceptions.
- Students who are or have been “in attendance” at an institution, either in person or by correspondence, are protected by FERPA.
- Students who applied to but did not attend an institution and deceased students are not protected by FERPA guidelines.
Under FERPA, all schools and educational agencies must:
- Review and inspect education records within 45 days of a request.
- Obtain student or parent consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
- Amend education records that are believed to be inaccurate.
- Notify parents and eligible students annually of their FERPA rights.
- Comply with FERPA recording and disclosure provisions.
Schools and educational agencies found to be in violation of FERPA face the possibility of stiff penalties, including:
- Dismissal or termination of responsible officials from their jobs.
- Loss of federal funding to the institution, including federal financial aid.
- Possible criminal prosecution, including jail time.