FERPA for Faculty, Staff and Students

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy act of 1974 helps protect the privacy of student records. FERPA gives students the following rights regarding educational records:

  • The right to inspect and review records.
  • The right to request to amend records.
  • The rights to demand educational records are disclosed only with written consent.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by EMU to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
What is an Educational Record?
  • Any record, with certain defined exceptions, that contains personally identifiable information directly related to the student that are maintained by the institution or agent of the institution
  • Such records may include: written documents, computer media, microfilm and microfiche, video, audio tapes or CDs, film or photographs
Personally identifiable data includes:
  • Name of the student, student’s parent, or other family members
  • Address of the student or student’s family
  • A personal identifier such as social security number or student number
  • Any unique personal characteristic that might identify an individual in a group Records
Not Considered as Education Records:
  • “Sole Possession” notes. Private notes of individual staff or faculty; (Not kept in student advising folders or in an area where they can be viewed by others).
  • Law enforcement unit records
  • Employment records
  • Medical records
  • Statistical data compilations that contain no mention of personally identifiable information about any specific student.
  • Records which contain only information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student at the institution (e.g. information gathered on the accomplishments of alumni).
There are two types of Educational Records
  1. Directory Information

    Information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Items that may be included in publications or disclosed upon request without consent. Students have the option to restrict the release of directory information by submitting a written request to limit disclosure.

    EMU has designated the following items as directory information:
    1. Name
    2. E-mail address
    3. Place of birth
    4. Major field of study
    5. Participation in recognized activities and sports
    6. Weight and height of members of athletic teams
    7. Dates of attendance
    8. Enrollment status (Graduate or Undergraduate, full/part time - NO credit hours)
    9. Grade level (e.g. freshman or sophomore, etc.)
    10. Candidacy for degree
    11. Degrees, honors, and awards received (including, but not limited to, the Dean's List)
    12. Previous educational agency or institution attended.
  2. Non-directory/confidential Information

    Non-directory/confidential information will not be disclosed to anyone, including parents, without prior written consent of the student unless the discloser falls under one of the exceptions found in FERPA. Faculty and staff can access non-directory information only if they have a legitimate academic need to do so.

    Non-directory/confidential information includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Student identification number
    2. Social security number
    3. Race, ethnicity and/or nationality
    4. Gender
    5. Grades; G.P.A
    6. *Class Rosters
    7. Address (new effective 6/23/13)
    8. Telephone number (new effective 6/23/13)
    9. Date of birth (new effective 6/23/13)

    *Use of photos on Class Rosters

    Class rosters and student photos are available to faculty and staff who have a legitimate educational interest. They are not to be made public or shared with others in any format.


    When disclosing any non-directory information to a third party a signed and dated consent must be obtained from the student. This written consent, which may be an electronic signature, must:

    • Specify the records that may be disclosed
    • State the purpose of the disclosure
    • Identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made
Exceptions to requiring prior written consent
  • The information disclosed is designated as “directory information”
  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Authorized representatives of the following in connection with an audit, evaluation or enforcement of federal and state supported education programs:
    • The Comptroller General of the United States
    • The Attorney General of the United States;
    • The Secretary of the United States Department of Education State and
    • Local Educational Authorities
  • Other schools in which a student ‘seeks’ or intends to enroll.
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate persons or organizations in connection with financial aid for which a student has applied;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of educational institutions to develop, validate or administer predictive tests, administer student aid programs or improve instruction;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • Parents or guardians of students under the age of 21 regarding violation of any law or institutional policy governing the use of alcohol or a controlled substance;
  • Parents of a dependent student as defined by the internal revenue code; To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • In cases of health and safety emergencies if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals;
  • Results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged crime of violence;
School Officials
At Eastern Michigan University a school official is defined as:
  • a person employed by EMU 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 EMU has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collections agent); a person serving on the Board of Regents;
  • a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
Legitimate Educational Interest

All confidential information shall be disclosed only on a NEED TO KNOW BASIS. That is, an official requesting information must have a legitimate educational interest in the information.

At Eastern Michigan University, a school official is determined to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary to fulfill his or her professional responsibility and perform a task related to a student's education.

Determining whether the person making the request for the confidential information is a school official and determining whether the person has a legitimate educational interest in the information shall be the responsibility of the person in charge of that record or file.

Discloser to a school official having a legitimate educational interest does not constitute authorization to share the information with a third party without the student's written consent. In addition, the information should be destroyed or returned to the originating office once it has fulfilled its originally specified purpose.

Parental rights

Parents have no inherent rights under FERPA to inspect a student’s education records. Records may be but are not required to be released to parents under the following circumstances:

  • with the written consent of the student
  • in compliance with a judicial order or subpoena
  • in connection with a health or safety emergency as determined by the holder of the record
  • if the parents declare the student as a dependent on the most recent federal tax return
  • in the case of violation of the college’s drug/alcohol policy
Spousal rights

A spouse has no inherent rights under FERPA to access the student’s education record. A spouse must produce written consent from the student for access to information.

This Act is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office U.S. Department of Education (202) 260-3887 (202) 260-9002 fax ferpa@ed.gov. Additional information regarding FERPA Regulations and History can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html