FERPA: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This means FERPA gives parents and students certain rights when it comes to how schools share students’ transcripts, health records, financial aid information and other records with outside groups or organizations. FERPA applies to educational institutions – like colleges and universities – that receive money from the U.S. Department of Education. Georgia State, as a public university that receives funding, follows the guidelines and rules of FERPA.

FERPA’s guidelines and rules give parents and students these basic rights:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school.
  2. The right to request that a school amend the student’s education records.
  3. The right to consent in writing to sharing information from the student’s education record with outside groups or organizations.
  4. The right to file a complaint if there is a suspected violation under FERPA.

Parents’ rights under FERPA transfer to the student when the student enrolls in college or turns 18 (whichever comes first). This means that while parents may access their minor child’s educational records while he or she is in high school, they will not be able to do so once their child enrolls in college or turns 18. At this point, the student holds the FERPA rights, not the parents.

Usually, schools must have written permission from the parent or student to release any information from a student’s education record to outside groups. There are a few situations, however, when FERPA will allow schools to share students’ information without their consent.

In addition, schools may disclose, without parent or student consent, basic information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and students about basic information and allow them a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not share that information with outside groups.

For a full description of how FERPA is followed at Georgia State, please click here.