FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

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. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Access & Rights to FERPA Information

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

FERPA Information Changes & Disclosure

Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, directory 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 eligible students about directory information and allow a reasonable amount of time for them to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

What Can Be Released as “Directory Information?”

Student directory information can be accessed through UB’s Online Directory. If a student has chosen to restrict their information, it won't appear in the directory.

Where Can I Learn More About FERPA?

The Information Security Office has an online course available in UB Learns called Handling Data Safely. The course covers FERPA, in addition to other relevant regulations.

  1. Log in using your UBITName and password, then go to the Courses tab.
  2. Search for "Handling Data Safely" and when it appears, click the “Go” button, then “Enroll” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click “Submit,” then “OK.”

This course should now appear in your courses list. Once enrolled, take Units 1, 2 and 4. Unit 3 should only be taken by a staff member who deals with student data, such as PeopleSoft. Unit 5 should only be taken by staff dealing with purchasing and use of credit cards. 

Still need help?

Contact the UBIT Help Center.