FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Frequently Asked Questions
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law
that affords parents the right to have access to their children's
education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and
the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally
identifiable information from the education records. When a student
turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age,
the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student
How am I informed about my rights under FERPA?
Educational agencies and institutions are required to notify parents and
eligible students about their rights under FERPA. FERPA regulations sets
forth the requirements for the notification. Schools do not have to
individually notify parents and eligible students but do have to notify
them by any means that are reasonably likely to inform the parents or
eligible students of their rights. (Student
Under what circumstances may a school disclose information from
education records without consent?
There are several exceptions to FERPA's general prior consent rule that
are set forth in the statute and the regulations. One exception is the
disclosure of "directory information" if the school follows certain
What is "Directory Information"?
FERPA defines "directory information" as information contained in the
education records of a student that would not generally be considered
harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Typically, "directory
information" includes information such as name, address, telephone
listing, date and place of birth, participation in officially recognized
activities and sports, and dates of attendance. What HCC
considers directory information is listed
If I am a parent of a college student, do I have the right to
see my child's education records, especially if I pay the bill?
The rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student, once
the student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution
at any age. However, although the rights under FERPA have now
transferred to the student, a school may disclose information from an
"eligible student's" education records to the parents of the student,
without the student's consent, if the student is a dependent for tax
purposes. Neither the age of the student nor the parent's status as
a custodial parent is relevant. If a student is claimed as a dependent
by either parent for tax purposes, then either parent may have access
under this provision.
Can a postsecondary institution disclose financial records of an
eligible student with the student's parents?
If the student is a dependent for income tax purposes, the institution
may disclose any education records, including financial records to a
student's parents. If the student is not a dependent, then the student
must generally provide consent for the school to disclose the
information to the parents.
What if my child is a minor and he or she is taking classes at a
local college while still in high school - do I have rights?
If a student is attending a postsecondary institution - at any age
- the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student.
However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high
school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange
information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents
still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect
and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high
May a postsecondary institution disclose to a parent, without
the student's consent, information regarding a student's violation of
the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance?
Yes, if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the
disclosure. FERPA was amended in 1998 to allow such disclosures. Also,
if the student is a "dependent student" as defined in FERPA, the
institution may disclosure such information, regardless of the age of