The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to student educational records. The law, which seeks to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records, applies to all schools that receive funds under applicable programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

What is an education record?

An education record is any record which contains information that is personally identifiable to a student, and is maintained by the university or by a party or organization acting on behalf of the school. Education records may include: written and printed documents; electronic media; magnetic tape (microfilm and microfiche); film; diskette or CDs; video or audio tapes. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.

What information is not considered part of an education record? 

Sole possession records or private notes of individual staff or faculty that are not accessible or released to other personnel, law enforcement or campus security records, employee records (unless employment is based on student status, i.e. a graduate teaching assistant or work-study student), medical records, alumni records.

What are a student's rights under FERPA?

  • The right to inspect and review their education records.

  • The right to seek the amendment of their educational records. 

  • The right to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.

  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Directory Information

Under FERPA, some information included in a student's education record is defined as directory information. Institutions may disclose that information without violating the law if it has specifically designated that information as "directory information." Western defines directory information as:

  • Name 
  • Local telephone number
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Participation in officially recognized sports and activities
  • Weight and height if a member of an athletic team
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended