FERPA Overview

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

FERPA is the federal law that governs the rights of students and institutional responsibilities with respect to student records. If you have any questions regarding any of the information contained herein, please contact. The Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance and University Director of Privacy at 973-972-8093 or ferparu@rutgers.edu

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly referred to as FERPA or the Buckley amendment, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all educational agencies or institutions that receive federal funding for any program administered by the Secretary of Education. FERPA also applies to private entities that contract to perform services for the University that it would otherwise undertake to perform on its own; in such cases, the private entity must observe the same FERPA protections applicable to the University. FERPA grants adult students (18 and older) the following rights:

  • The right to inspect and review their educational records
  • The right to seek the amendment of their educational records
  • The right to consent to the disclosure of their educational records
  • The right to obtain a copy of their school’s Student Records Policy
  • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C.

FERPA Basics

  • With only a few exceptions, student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student.
  • Faculty or staff members have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.
  • Faculty or staff members may only access information that is needed for legitimate completion of your responsibilities as a university employee.

What is an Education Record?

"Education Records" include any information or data recorded in any medium, including but not limited to, handwriting, print, tapes, film, e-mail, microfilm, and microfiche, which is directly related to a student and maintained by the University or by a person acting for the University.

Examples of an Education Record include, but are not limited to:

  • Admissions information for students who are accepted and enrolled
  • Biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, information about race and ethnicity, and identification photographs
  • Grades, test scores, evaluations, courses taken, academic specialization and activities, and official communications regarding a student's status
  • Course work including papers and exams, class schedules, as well as written, email or recorded communications that are part of the academic process
  • Disciplinary records
  • Students' financial and financial aid records
  • Internship program records

What is NOT an Educational Record?

Education records do not include:

  • Rutgers University law enforcement records
  • Employment records when the employment is not connected to student status (e.g., a staff member who happens to be pursuing a degree at the institution, as opposed to a student employed under the work-study program)
  • Medical and mental health records used only for treatment of the student
  • Alumni records which do not relate to or contain information about the person as a student (e.g., information collected by the University pertaining to alumni accomplishments)
  • "Sole possession records" The term "sole possession records" is intended to cover memory aids or reference tools. It does not refer to records that contain information provided directly by a student or records that are used to make decisions about a student. As such, this is a very limited exception. For example, personal notes from a committee meeting recommending students for a particular program would not be considered sole possession records if they are used to make decisions about the students