Ask the FERPA Professor

September 18, 2023
  • FERPA Professor
  • FERPATop
cartoon figure reminiscent of Einstein stands in front of a chalkboard with the board "FERPA" written on it

Dear FERPA Professor, 

I hope you are doing well.

We have a student who was here 2014-FA who withdrew after failing all of their classes and currently owes a balance of $1,449.19. They are requesting a transcript of their school records because they are trying to go to another school. 
The student stated “The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) [20 USC 1232g and 34 CFR 99] gives students the right to inspect and review their own education records.” in an email to us that this gives them the right to their transcript (official or unofficial). The way I read this is that we could physically show them the unofficial transcript document, but we cannot let them leave with it; it would be view-only.
The way our system is set up it will not print an official or unofficial transcript if a student owes a balance. Is what we have set up correct or do they have the right to an unofficial transcript? 
Thank you for your time,

Ms. Mount

Dear Ms. Mount,

One of the primary rights of students under FERPA is the right to "inspect and review" their education records. What the FERPA regulations require is that an institution provide students the opportunity to view those records. (See § 99.10 of the FERPA regulations.) Institutions are only required to provide copies of those records if a failure to do so would effectively prevent the student that opportunity. (See § 99.10(d).) However, nothing in the regulations prevents the institution from providing copies if it prefers to do so. Thus, so long as the institution provides the student the ability to view her records, it has met its FERPA obligation.

I hope this is helpful in answering your question. You can find the above-cited regulations on page 157 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

The FERPA Professor

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