Ask the FERPA Professor

Dear FERPA Professor,

Are students' ID photos considered education records?  These photos now appear on electronic class lists and the like.  Access the record of a student in Banner, DegreeWorks, MapWorks, etc., and the ID photo is displayed along with the student's information.  Student photos at my institution are not considered directory information.

Under what circumstances can photographs of students be used without students' permission - e.g. in ad/marketing campaigns or campus brochures?  Does FERPA make a distinction between a staged photo shoot with particular students on the one hand, and a random photo of students on campus, on the other - e.g. students on move-in day or at commencement?  Are photos of students used for marketing campaigns and brochures considered education records?


(C)ansel Adams


Dear (C)ansel,

Yes, photos of students which are maintained by the institution are education records and thus, subject to FERPA.  If you look at the items listed in §99.3 "directory information," you will find "photograph" as one of those items.  However, in order to disclose them under this exception to signed consent, your institution would have to have "photograph" listed in your directory notice to current students.  For example, use of such photos for marketing would generally require a consent from the student(s) prior to use.  The fact that they are not a directory item would not, however, preclude the University from disclosing the photos internally to other school officials at your institution with a legitimate educational interest. 


The FERPA Professor