Keeping FERPA at the Forefront

October 17, 2022
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • field notes
Group of professionals attending training.

By Katie Brown, University Registrar at Aspen University

"Field Notes" is a regular Connect column covering practical and philosophical issues facing admissions and registrar professionals. The columns are authored by various AACRAO members. If you have an idea for a column and would like to contribute, please send an email to the editor at

FERPA training is a necessary part of the Registrar’s Office role, but employees can often find FERPA dry and more of a hindrance than a benefit. Through the use of a mindful FERPA training schedule and creative use of mixed media, FERPA can be engaging all year long and always at the forefront of employees’ minds. The following will help you establish a FERPA training plan that works for your institution:

  • Establish a baseline. If you are not the department/person responsible for the employee’s initial FERPA training, it’s a good idea to find out how that training is delivered, when it is delivered, and the content of the training. This will help you establish a baseline of knowledge for all employees off which your additional FERPA training can build.

  • Consider regular re-training. Are your employees regularly retrained on FERPA or is their new hire FERPA training the only training they get? Solicit the help of your Human Resources department, compliance office, or other administrators and see if you can implement regular retraining. Annual retraining might be a good idea for student-facing faculty and staff. Training every two to three years may be appropriate for non-student-facing staff. People tend to be overwhelmed during new hire onboarding and might forget some of the materials covered, so regular retraining as a best practice using a schedule that works for your institution’s needs is ideal. 

  • Create a mindful training schedule. Right after training, people tend to be hyper-aware of a topic. That awareness tends to fade a few months after the training. The creation of a FERPA calendar, with activities and reminders spaced throughout the year, will help ensure that as soon as people start to forget about FERPA, they are jolted with another dose of FERPA knowledge. These FERPA activities can range from holding a training workshop to sending digital handouts.

  • Mix it up. FERPA training can be boring. Mixing up your FERPA training modalities can help to engage different types of learners while keeping FERPA interesting for your teams. FERPA videos, online training courses, one-pagers, posters, scenario-based training, team-specific training exercises, podcasts, group brainstorming session, and more can all be used throughout the year to push FERPA to the fore. And don’t forget- sometimes, being cheesy helps. While not always appropriate, the occasional cheesy video, song, or example can help FERPA stick in peoples’ minds.

FERPA is an important compliance topic and employee participation is key. Through the creation of a FERPA training schedule and entertaining and informative FERPA training, employees are more likely to remember their FERPA training when presented with FERPA scenarios in the wild. With some careful contemplation of the needs of your faculty and staff, you can create FERPA training materials that always keep FERPA prominent in everyday practice.


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