Ask the FERPA Professor

February 21, 2022
  • FERPA Professor
cartoon figure reminiscent of Einstein stands in front of a chalkboard with the board "FERPA" written on it

Dear FERPA Professor

Hope everyone is doing well in the new year!  I have a question I'm hoping you can give me some guidance on. I am currently working with our campus to update and enforce our retention policies/schedule.  Our admissions team had a question regarding letters of recommendation.

Our document retention policy states that letters of recommendation accompanied with a waiver of right to access should be stored as long as the file is stored, and letters of recommendation without a waiver of right to access should be purged upon the point of admission (per AACRAO recommendations). Is this how the policy is meant to be interpreted and, if so, should letters of recommendation with the waiver of right of access be stored for 3 years after the point of graduation/withdrawal or 5 years?

Ms. Topaz

Dear Ms. Topaz,

Records retention is generally a decision of the institution but is often driven by Federal or State records maintenance requirements.  FERPA, for example, does not require that any student education records be maintained, other than those maintained education records where the student has requested the opportunity to inspect and review the records. See § 99.10(e) of the FERPA regulations which you can find on page 157 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide

Additionally, AACRAO Publication has a book entitled Student Records Management that you might find helpful in developing your records retention policy.  It can be ordered here. 
I hope this is helpful in answering your questions.

The FERPA Professor

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