What Students and Parents Should Know About FERPA
(Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
What Is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to protect the confidentiality of student education records. The law states that no one outside the institution shall have access to a student's education records, nor will the institution disclose any information from those records without the written consent of the student.
What Are Education Records?
"Education records" are records that:
- Contain information that is directly related to a student.
- Are maintained by an education agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.
What Does Not Qualify as an Education Record?
Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker for use as a memory aid and not shared with others.
- Public Safety records maintained and used only for law enforcement purposes.
- Employment records that relate exclusively to an individual's employment capacity.
- Medical and psychological records made, maintained, or used only in connection with the treatment of the student.
- Post-attendance records (alumni records).
Note: In most circumstances, students do not have the right to review their parents' financial records or confidential recommendations to which they have waived access.
What Are a Student's Rights Under FERPA?
- Right to inspect and review education records.
- Right to request amendment of education records.
- Right to have some control over the disclosure of information from education records.
- Right to file with the U.S. Department of Education a complaint concerning alleged failures by the education agency or institution to comply with the requirements of the act.
What About Parental Access to a Student's Education Records?
At the post-secondary level, parents have no inherent rights to inspect a student's education record. The right to inspect is limited solely to the student.
Parents may gain access to non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only if they obtain consent from the student.
The preferred method to allow access to parents is through My.Hofstra.edu Portal whereby the student can, at his or her discretion, grant access to his or her records online. A consent form, FERPA Student Release, is also available at the Student Financial Services & Registrar Suite, 206 Memorial Hall, or can be downloaded from Hofstra's Web site by clicking here.
What Is Considered "Directory Information"?
In compliance with FERPA, the following statement reflects Hofstra University's policy with regard to the release of "directory information."
Hofstra University may release directory information that includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards received, and the most recent education agency or institution attended.
However, each student has the right to inform Hofstra University that any or all of the directory information may not be released. Hofstra University will honor the student's request to restrict the release of directory information. Students must notify the Office of Academic Records/Registrar in writing. A form requesting nondisclosure may be obtained at the Student Financial Services & Registrar Suite, 206 Memorial Hall. Status of nondisclosure is binding until such time that Hofstra is notified in writing by the student to permit release of "directory information."
Hofstra University reserves the right to withhold directory information at its discretion.
Can Hofstra University Disclose Information Without a Student's Consent?
Pursuant to FERPA, the University may disclose a student's education records without a student's written consent under certain conditions. These include, but are not limited to:
- Disclosure to a school official who has a legitimate educational interest.
- Disclosure to an education auditing or enforcing agency of a federal or state-supported program.
- Disclosure associated with eligibility for financial aid.
- Disclosure pursuant to a court order or subpoena.
- Disclosure that is necessary to protect the safety of the student or other persons.
What Is Annual Notification?
In compliance with FERPA, Hofstra University annually notifies students of the rights afforded to them under FERPA by publishing the University's FERPA policy on the University's Web site, in the University's Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Bulletins and in the Guide to Pride.
Where Can I Find Additional FERPA Information?
- U.S. Dept. of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html