Dear FERPA Professor,
I am looking for some guidance on the requirements to provide education records to students. To expedite processing and ease the burden of providing old records, our institution leadership would like to pursue the option to purge records and/or no longer offer transcripts to students before a certain time.
From what I understand in the FERPA requirements, FERPA does not determine what records the college maintains but what we do maintain we are required to allow students to review if requested.
We have a state regulation that says we must maintain our transcripts for 60 years, but it doesn’t specify that we have to provide a copy to students upon request.
So, combining the state and federal requirements, I understand that to mean we are required by state law to keep transcript records for 60 years and during that 60-year period, per FERPA regulations, we would be required to provide a copy or allow students to review those records if requested.
Can you let me know if I am understanding and interpreting the regulations correctly? Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.
Dear Ms. Ken,
You have summarized well.
FERPA does not require that an institution maintain education records but does require that it protect those records from inappropriate disclosures and provide the student the opportunity to view any records maintained on the student.
An institution is not required to provide copies of records to the student unless not providing copies would effectively prevent access. This would primarily be the case if a student did not live within commuting distance of the institution. See § 99.10(d) of the FERPA regulations. In addition, because your State law requiring maintenance of transcripts does not conflict with FERPA, the institution would also follow it.
I hope this is helpful in answering your questions.
You can find the above-cited regulation on page 157 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.
The FERPA Professor