The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law (20 U.S.C. 1232g) that protects the privacy of a student’s educational record. FERPA applies to all educational institutions receiving funds from the United States Department of Education, from kindergarten through university level. With limited prescribed exceptions, educational institutions may not release personally identifiable information (PII) or non-directory information about a student without written permission from (i) the student’s parent, or (ii) the student if over the age of 18 or attending a postsecondary institution.
At Florida Atlantic University, the privacy of academic records is also protected by Florida Statutes 1002.225 and 1006.52, which offer similar protections and provisions under state law, and FAU Regulation 4.008, which designates directory information that Florida Atlantic University may release upon request, or otherwise publish, unless specifically notified by the student in writing.
The U.S. Department of Education summarizes the rights afforded to students by FERPA as follows:
- The right to inspect and review their educational records within a reasonable period of time and no more than 45 days after the institution has received the request.
- The right to request amendment to correct inaccuracies in their educational records.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in their education records, except to the extent that the Act and Code of Federal Regulation 34 § 99.31 authorize disclosure without consent. Disclosures under § 99.31 will be made to designated school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records, as defined below.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education if they feel their FERPA rights have been violated.
To request the inspection, review or amendment of student records, please provide a written request to the Registrar that identifies the records requested and/or the proposed amendment, with as much specificity as reasonably possible. For records reviews, the Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. For proposed record amendments, the school will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and advise of the right to a hearing regarding the request for an amendment. Additional procedures regarding the hearing procedures will be provided at that time and shall be conducted in accordance with 34 CFR § 99.21 and § 99.22.
Under FERPA, school personnel may share student records with other school officials who have legitimate educational interests in the information. As set forth in University Regulation 4.008 , “school officials” are persons employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a student affairs board or committee, or assisting another school official in performing their tasks. In addition, a school official has a “legitimate educational interest” if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities for the University. The University may also disclose information from a student’s education records to officials of other institutions at which the student seeks or intends to enroll, and as otherwise permitted by law.
FAU’s disclosures of student records under § 99.31 include disclosures, subject to the requirements of § 99.35, to authorized representatives of the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities, including but not limited to authorized representatives of the Florida Board of Governors ("Federal and State Authorities"). These Federal and State Authorities may further allow access to your records without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is "principally engaged in the provision of education," such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
FERPA requires universities to provide students with annual notification of these rights. Students who suspect that a FERPA violation has occurred should contact the University Registrar (777 Glades Road, Building SU80, Boca Raton, FL 33431; 561-297-2429) or they can contact the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education website at https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/file-a-complaint.