The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to student educational records. The law, which seeks to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records, applies to all schools that receive funds under applicable programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

Visit the department's Family Policy Compliance Office website to learn more.

Regulations and Recent Guidance

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Regulations (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Final Rules (December 2011)

FPCO's Guidance on FERPA and the Disclosure of Student Information Related to Emergencies and Disasters (June 2010)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (February 2010)

FPCO's Dear Colleague Letter on the 2010 Census (September 2009)

Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions (February 2004)

In light of the December 2011 FERPA changes, AACRAO contracted with a prominent D.C. law firm to produce additional language for institutions to use as part of their annual FERPA Notice. The association recommends the FERPA Addendum Notice as a compliance addition to institutional privacy disclosures.

Model Contract - Institution/Vendor Agreement for Outsourced Educational Activity Services

FERPA Basics

What are a student's rights under FERPA?

  • The right to inspect and review their education records
  • The right to seek to amend education records that are believed to be inaccurate of misleading
  • The right to demand that personally identifiable information be disclosed only with student consent, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent
  • The right to file a complaint against the institution

What is an education record?

An education record is any record which contains information that is personally identifiable to a student, and is maintained by the university or by a party or organization acting on behalf of the school. 

Education records may include:

  • Written and printed documents
  • Electronic media
  • Magnetic tape (microfilm and microfiche)
  • Film
  • Diskette or CDs
  • Video or audio tapes

This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

What information is not considered part of an education record?

  • Sole possession records or private notes of individual staff or faculty that are not accessible or released to other personnel
  • Law enforcement or campus security records
  • Employee records (unless contingent upon attendance)
  • Medical records
  • Alumni records

What is directory information?

Under FERPA, some information included in a student's education record is defined as directory information. Institutions may disclose that information without violating the law if it has specifically designated that information as "directory information."

Directory information may include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Current enrollment status (full-time/part-time)
  • Class standing
  • Receipt or non-receipt of a degree
  • Academic awards received

For more specific and in-depth information, see AACRAO's 2012 FERPA Guide Training Materials and Forms.

In the wake of highly-publicized incidents involving well known institutions, FERPA compliance has become a key issue for universities and colleges nationwide. AACRAO offers several resources to help address student privacy issues.

The AACRAO 2012 FERPA Guide

For over 35 years, AACRAO's FERPA Guide has provided valuable guidance and training materials to help institutional record-keepers and other school officials understand and comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended (FERPA). In addition to relevant issues contained in previous editions, the AACRAO 2012 FERPA Guide provides updates throughout based on the recently revised FERPA regulations that became effective in January 2012.

The AACRAO 2012 FERPA Guide is now available and can be purchased online or by calling the AACRAO Distribution Center at 301-490-7651.

FERPA Consulting

AACRAO Senior Fellow LeRoy Rooker, former director of the U.S. Education Department's Family Policy Compliance Office, conducts FERPA training and workshops to meet the compliance needs of individual institutions. FERPA Consulting can help institutions develop policies and procedures for protecting records, significantly limiting the risk of a FERPA violation. Additionally, AACRAO can provide institutional FERPA audits to ensure that faculty and staff are properly trained in the requirements of FERPA and that campus policy and procedures are correctly implemented.
To learn more about AACRAO FERPA Consulting, visit http://ferpa.aacrao.org/index.html.