Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (See University Operational Policy)

Congress passed the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, on August 21, 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records. Within the context of higher education, FERPA provides college students with the rights to:

  1. Control the disclosure of their education records to others;
  2. Inspect and review their own education records; and
  3. Seek amendment of their education records.

“Education records” refers to records directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency, institution, or a party acting for the agency or institution. “Record” means any information recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, and microfiche; this does not include information that is not “recorded”, such as personal knowledge. In general, a record is “directly related” to a student if it contains “personally identifiable information” about that student. FERPA prohibits unauthorized dissemination of educational information by the institution or its employees. MSU, like most institutions of higher education, falls under FERPA regulations and is obligated to develop policies for the protection and restricted dissemination of records related to each student’s education. However, FERPA also affords MSU some latitude in establishing its own policies, defining relevant terms, and conveying critical information for the health and safety of individual students and other members of the institution within the legal parameters of the Act. When responding to an emergency, or in some cases preventing a potential emergency from occurring, health and safety issues assume priority over student education privacy rights

Before disclosing education records, or information from education records, an institution must obtain signed and dated written consent from all relevant students specifying that the records may be disclosed, the purpose for which they may be disclosed, and the persons or classes to whom they may be disclosed. Exceptions that do not require written consent include the following disclosures:

  1. Directory Information (e-mail address, major, grade level, etc.)
  2. To school officials with legitimate educational interests
  3. Parents of a dependent student
  4. In connection with a significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals
  5. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena

This being said, there are two main purposes for FERPA’s creation: to guarantee the rights of parents of students under the age of 18 and to limit access to student records to the individual student and their parents or guardians.

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