Dear FERPA Professor:
I am writing to double-check -- must we use a wet signature for FERPA releases? Because of COVID 19, there are a lot of forms that used to be wet signatures that are now allowed to be signed electronically.
Thank you for clarification, and I hope you're doing well during these strange times.
Thank you for the inquiry. As you know, §99.30 of the FERPA regulations require that a student provide a signed, dated, written consent before an institution discloses information from the student's education record, unless the disclosure meets the specific conditions of one the exceptions to signed consent found
However, §99.30(d) permits an institution to accept an electronic consent, but it also requires that the institution know that the electronic signature authenticates the identity of the student. Thus, electronic signatures would generally be established
by the institution, not by an outside party where the institution may not know what, if any, authentication process exists. If the College provides the email service for the students, it could always suggest/require that the student
email through the official College account, permission to accept the document(s), thus providing the required authentication.