Ask the FERPA Professor

Good Day,

My college employs four counselors who provide counseling services to students for depression, anxiety, depression, and similar mental maladies. We refer students needing psychiatric (or similar) treatment to professional resources in the community as we are not a treatment facility. We have, however, designated our counselors as having ‘privilege’ under Title IX in which they are not mandatory reporters should a student mention an issue related to a Title IX issue. 

A student has recently requested a copy of his records kept by a counselor. Would my institution consider the records kept by a counselor to be “treatment records” that do not need to be released to the student, or are these considered the same as all education records (i.e. subject to review and inspection) as we are not a treatment facility?  I understand that if these records are considered treatment records and are released to the student that they then become education records.

Thank you,

Prim Enpropeur


Dear Prim,

The FERPA definition of "education records" specifically excludes treatment records that are made or maintained by a recognized professional or paraprofessional that are made, maintained or used only in connection with treatment of the student and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment.  FERPA does not prohibit the disclosure of these treatment records so long as the disclosure meets the specific conditions set forth in FERPA for the disclosure.  However, if the treatment records are disclosed to a non-treatment provider, including the student, then they would become education records.  You can find the treatment records language as item (4) under the "Education Records" definition on page 154 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

I hope this is helpful in clarifying the issue for you.


The FERPA Professor

Get better at FERPA. Spend two days diving into the work of the Registrar's Office at the Registrar 101/FERPA Workshop March 24-25, 2018, in Orlando. This workshop is for those new to the profession and will address many of the 'what' and 'how' questions that make up the work of the registrar. Or, if you have at least five years of experience in the profession, join Registrar 201 and explore major competencies and proficiencies of the registrar profession, FERPA beyond the basics, and look to the future of the profession. 

After the preconference workshop, stay for the AACRAO Annual Meeting, March 25-28, 2018.

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