What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides eligible students the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records and to limit disclosure of information from the records.
The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Who is Protected Under FERPA?
FERPA protects the education records of students who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or status with regard to parental dependency.
The education records of students who have applied to but have not attended an institution are not subject to FERPA guidelines, nor are deceased students.
An “education record” is any record that is directly related to a student and maintained by the university.
Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, email, print, digital, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official.
Exceptions: Education Records Do NOT Include:
- Records in the "sole possession of the maker that are not accessible to other personnel”
- Law enforcement or campus security records created and maintained by the law enforcement unit and used for law enforcement purposes
- Employment records
- Medical/psychological treatment records
- Alumni records (those created after the student graduated or left the institution)
What Rights Do Students Have Under FERPA?
Students Have the Right To:
- Be notified of their FERPA rights at least annually
- Inspect and review their records
- Seek amendment to an incorrect record
- Limit disclosure of directory information
- File a complaint with the Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with FERPA
When do FERPA rights begin? A FERPA-related college education record begins for a student when he or she enrolls in a higher education institution. At a postsecondary institution, rights belong to the student in attendance, regardless of the student’s age.
Who May Have Access to Student Information?
- The student and any outside party who has the student’s written
- School officials (as defined by the University) who have “legitimate educational interests”
- Parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code
- A person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as the University makes a reasonable attempt to notify the
- Appropriate persons in connection with a health or safety emergency.
- Certain other persons as specifically provided by law.
Directory Information at UNI
Directory Information consists of information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if publicly available. Directory Information is considered public and may be released without the student’s written permission, however specific directory information cannot be released if the student has restricted access by updating their personal information in MyUNIverse.
Directory Information at UNI (published in the UNI Directory)
- Student's name, university and home address, E-mail address, and telephone number.
- Curriculum major(s) and minor(s)3. Curriculum major(s) and minor(s)
- Classification (Year in school)
- Participation in recognized organizations, activities, and sports
- Currently enrolled
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees received
FERPA and Parents' Access to their Student's Education Records
1. When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution at any age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student
2. Parents may have access to non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their student
3. Records may be released to parents without a signed consent from the student under certain exceptions:
- Health or safety emergency
- Where the student has been found in violation of the institution’s code of conduct relating to the use of alcohol or a controlled substance, if the student is under age 21
- By submission of evidence that the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax form
Need More Information?
University of Northern Iowa
Office of the Registrar
115 Gilchrist Hall
Family Policy Compliance Office
US Department of Education