Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

What Is FERPA?

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.

At the University of Florida, the privacy of academic records is also protected by Florida Statute Section 1002.22 (2007).

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 to amend inaccuracies in their educational records
  • The right to limit disclosure of some personally identifiable information
  • The right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office if they feel their FERPA rights have been violated.

FERPA requires universities to provide students with annual notification of these rights. UF's annual notification appears in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. Students who suspect that a FERPA violation has occurred, should contact the Vice President for Student Affairs (155 Tigert Hall; 352-392-1265) or they can contact the Family Policy Compliance Office within the U.S. Department of Education.

What is an Education Record?

An education record is any record directly related to a student that is maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

Examples of an academic record include, but are not limited to:

  • Biographical information including date and place of birth, gender, nationality, information about race and ethnicity, and identification photographs
  • Grades, test scores, evaluations, courses taken, academic specialization and activities, and official communications regarding your status
  • Coursework including papers and exams, class schedules, as well as written email or recorded communications that are part of the academic process
  • Disciplinary records
  • Financial aid and financial aid records
  • Internship program records

Academic records do not include:

  • Sole possession records that are used only as memory aids and not shared with others
  • Law enforcement unit records
  • Employment records, unless the employment is dependent on the employee’s status as a student (such as evaluations of graduate assistants)
  • Medical records
  • Records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at that agency or institution

What is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally identifiable information is any information — directory and nondirectory information — easily traced to the student, and may include name, name of parents or family members, address, social security or UFID number, a list of personal characteristics or any other information that clearly distinguishes the student’s identity.

What is Directory Information?

Directory information is the information available about a student that is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. While FERPA and state law protect the privacy of educational records, directory information is not treated as confidential and may be disclosed by the university without student consent unless the student requests a privacy hold. At UF, the following has been designated as directory information:

  • Student name
  • Local/permanent addresses and email address
  • Telephone number(s)
  • Class and college
  • Major
  • Enrollment status(e.g., undergraduate or graduate level; full time or part time)
  • Dates of attendance at UF
  • Degrees and awards received at UF
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended
  • Weight and height of university athletes
  • Publication titles (dissertations)
  • Nature and place of employment at UF

What is Nondirectory Information?

Nondirectory information refers to information that generally cannot be released without the student's consent. This includes:

  • Birth date
  • Religion
  • Citizenship
  • Disciplinary status
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • GPA (grade point average)
  • Marital status
  • UFID or social security number
  • Grades/exam scores
  • Standardized test scores
  • Actual number of hours enrolled