Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Colleges and universities are encouraged to have a clear policy to communicate to faculty, staff, and other individuals who may have access to student information to ensure compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Christian colleges and universities that receive federal funding administered by the Department of Education are required to comply with FERPA.  FERPA requires covered colleges and universities to obtain written consent from an eligible student before it can disclose protected information to a third party, including a student’s parents.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords “eligible students”1 certain rights with respect to their education records.

An eligible student may make the following requests under FERPA:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days after the day the university receives a request for access.
  2. The right to request an amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
  3. The right to provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except as otherwise allowed by FERPA.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged FERPA violations by the university.

In general, the University will not disclose PII from a student’s education records to any third party without written consent. However, in certain situations, FERPA does allow disclosure of these records without consent to:

  • “School officials”2 with legitimate educational interests (in order to fulfill the official’s professional responsibilities to the university).
  • 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.
  • 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.

1 An “eligible student” is a student who reaches the age of 18 or attends a college at any age. The protected information generally applies to a student’s educational records (such as graded papers, exams, transcripts, class schedule, student financial aid, and others), but also includes other personal information (such as country of citizenship, religious affiliation, or disciplinary status).

2 A “school official” is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position; a person or company with whom the university has contracted as its agent to provide a service for the university; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student working for the university or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

Additionally, FERPA designates certain information related to a student as “Directory Information.”3 FERPA gives the university the right to disclose such information to anyone inquiring without having to ask a student for permission if it has given public notice of the types of information designated as directory information, the eligible student's right to restrict the disclosure of such information, and the period of time within which an eligible student has to notify the school of the student’s objection to disclosure of such information. Below is information the university has designated as “student directory information:”

  • Name
  • Local address and telephone number
  • Permanent address
  • E-mail address
  • Date and place of birth
  • Photograph or likeness
  • College
  • Curriculum
  • Enrollment status (full/part-time)
  • Grade level or year
  • Dates of attendance at university
  • Awards and academic honors
  • Degrees and dates awarded
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and athletic teams
  • Height and weight of student athletes

In the event a student would like to make a request relating to the student’s record, the student should submit a written request to the university’s registrar, dean, or other appropriate official [insert your university’s contact for student FERPA requests].  The request should identify the record(s) the student wishes to address and clearly identify the student’s request (such as request to inspect, correct error, etc). The designated university official will make arrangements to address the student’s request.

In the event of a student’s request to amend a record, if the university decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the university will promptly notify the student in writing of the university’s decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. The university will provide the student additional information regarding the hearing when the student is notified of the right to a hearing.

If a student would like to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning an alleged FERPA violation by the university, it may do so by filing a complaint to the address below:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

3 Directory information" is defined as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.