FERPA for Students: Academic Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It became effective on December 31, 1974. The purpose of the act as it pertains to post-secondary institutions is twofold: 

  • to protect an individual’s right to privacy by limiting disclosure of student records without his or her consent.
  • to give parents and students the right to access/inspect education records, as well as the right to seek to have records amended in cases believed to be misleading. These rights transfer to the student at the age of 18 or when he/she attends college.

This information is made available to all students in accordance with the requirement that they be informed of the rights afforded them by the act. Specifically, students are advised of their rights as follows:

Records available to students

Matriculated students have “the right to inspect and review any and all official records, files, and data... including all material that is incorporated into each student’s cumulative record folder, and intended for school use or to be available to parties outside the school....” The registrar’s office maintains the official academic record. 

Release of Academic Information

Students may grant St. Lawrence University permission to release information about their education records to specific individuals by completing the Academic Information Release form. While FERPA states that a school may non-consensually disclose a student’s education records to a parent(s)/guardian(s) who is claimed as a dependent as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code, St. Lawrence University policy upholds the student’s wishes as stated in writing on the Academic Information Release form. Information will only be released to an individual(s) listed on the Academic Information Release form.

Rights of third parties to access records

The University may disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s education records only with the written consent of the student, except: 

  • to school officials (i.e., persons employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position; a person elected to the board of trustees; a person or company employed by or under contract to the University to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor; or a student serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks) who have legitimate educational interests (i.e., the need to review education records to fulfill their University- related responsibilities); 
  • to officials of another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or where the student already is enrolled (note: it is the University’s policy to forward education records to other agencies or institutions in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or where the student already is enrolled only with written consent from the student; the University reserves the right to forward said records upon the request of such agencies or institutions, without written consent from the student after a reasonable attempt has been made to contact the student); 
  • to Department of Defense representatives in accordance with the Solomon Amendment.
  • to authorized representatives of certain FERPA designated federal and state agencies for the enforcement of federal and state legal requirements; 
  • in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid, as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid; 
  • pursuant to court order or lawfully issued subpoena, but only after reasonable attempt to notify the student of the order or subpoena, unless the subpoena prohibits disclosure of the existence or contents of the subpoena or information furnished in response to the subpoena; 
  • to accrediting organizations to carry out their functions;
  • in connection with health and safety emergencies, as permitted by law; 
  • to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or the results of any institutional disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator or that crime with respect to that crime; and 
  • as otherwise permitted by FERPA and its implementing regulations as amended from time to time.

With the exception of disclosures covered by the exceptions noted above, prior to release of personally identifiable information from a student’s education records, and subject to the rules regarding “directory information,” below, written consent must be received from the student specifying the records to be disclosed, stating the purpose of the disclosure and identifying the party to whom the disclosure may be made. 

Whenever the University discloses personally identifiable information from an education record (except as to disclosures (1) of “directory information,” or (2) to the student who is the subject of the record, it shall inform the party to whom it is disclosing the information that it may not be further released or disclosed without the consent of the student.

Directory information 

St. Lawrence University considers the following to be directory information: name, address, telephone number, email address, student photo id, dates of attendance, major field of study, degrees and awards received and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. The University continues to have the right to release “directory” information without first obtaining the consent of the student. Students wishing to have the information excluded from directories should contact the office of the dean of student life and co-curricular education.

FERPA may be viewed in detail by here.