Ask the FERPA Professor

Greetings professor,

Our VP of Enrollment Management is requesting unrestricted access to all current student records for their admissions staff. I’m having trouble seeing the educational need to know this situation and see it as a possible FERPA violation to grant this access.

Am I on the right track? When a student begins their first day of classes, they should be ‘handed over’ to their academic advisor and not continue to be advised by their admissions counselor. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but hopefully you can provide some insight?

Thanks,

Major Major

 

Major2,

I understand your concern on this issue and the answer lies in your school’s definition of a “legitimate educational interest.” §99.31(a)(1)(i)(A) and §99.31(a)(ii) of the FERPA regulations permits an institution to disclose student education records to a school official at the institution so long as that official has a legitimate educational interest in accessing the particular record(s). §99.7(a)(3)(iii) requires that the terms “school official” and “legitimate educational interest be defined in the institution’s annual FERPA notice to students.

In order for a school official to have a legitimate educational interest, the official should have a need to access the student records in question as part of that official’s job. If this is not the case, then it is the institution’s responsibility to deny such access. You can find the above referenced sections on page 159 and 156 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

I hope this is responsive to your inquiry.

The FERPA Professor 

 

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