Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Faculty/Staff Version

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 require Colleges to protect the privacy of student education records. The Act provides for the right of the student to inspect and review education records, and the right of the student to limit disclosure of information from the records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education. Unlike in the K–12 setting, parents of students attending College, regardless of the age of the student, have no rights pertaining to the education records of their sons/daughters.

What rights does FERPA afford students with respect to their education records?

  • The right to inspect and review, but not to receive a copy of, their education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access
  • The right to request an amendment to the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate and misleading
  • The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with requirements of FERPA.

The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605

Who is protected under FERPA?

Students who are currently or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency. Students who have applied to but have not attended an institution and deceased students do not come under FERPA's protections.

Parents of students termed as "dependent" for income tax purposes may have access to the student's education records at the discretion of the College. A copy of the parent's most recent federal income tax return, on which the parents declared the student as a dependent, must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar to document "dependency". With limited exceptions, FERPA grants to the College the sole discretion whether to grant access to a student's education records, even as to parents and even with the student's express authorization allowing access.

What are education records?

With certain exceptions, an education record is any record (1) from which a student can be personally identified and (2) which is maintained by the College. A student has the right of inspection to these records.

Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, email, magnetic tape, film, diskette, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school at which a student was previously enrolled.

What is not included in an education record?

  • Sole possession records or private notes held by school officials that are not accessible or released to other personnel;
  • Law enforcement or campus security records that are solely for law enforcement purposes and maintained solely by the law enforcement unit;
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution (unless contingent upon attendance);
  • Records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment; and
  • Records of an institution that contain information about an individual obtained only after that person is no longer a student at that institution, i.e., alumni records.

What is directory information?

Institutions, at their sole discretion, may disclose information of a student without violating FERPA if it has designated that information as "directory information." For MCC as well as the other Connecticut Community Colleges, directory information includes a student's:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Dates of attendance
  • Full time or part time enrollment status
  • Awards and honors
  • Major/Program of Study
  • Graduation date
    • How does a student authorize release of his or her education records in the form of an academic transcript?

      Students must authorize the release of their transcripts by a signed, written request or by completing and signing a transcript request forms available in the Office of the Registrar or on the MCC web page. There is no fee for unofficial transcripts. The receipt of written request via fax with signature to release an education is permissible. Proof of a student's identity may be required.

      When is the student's consent NOT required to disclose information?

      When the disclosure is:

      • To school officials (defined in policy) who have a "legitimate educational interest";
      • To federal, state, and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with educational programs;
      • In connection with financial aid (this includes veteran's benefits);
      • To organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions;
      • To parents of a dependent student as defined by the Internal Revenue Code;
      • To a person in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order, as long as the College first makes a reasonable attempt to notify the student. Normally, the College will comply with a subpoena after two weeks have elapsed from the day the subpoena was received;
      • In a health or safety emergency;
      • To release directory information; and,
      • To release the results of a disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence.

      How does increasing technology impact FERPA on our campus?

      The use of computerized recordkeeping systems is increasing at a fast pace. We can anticipate that the distribution of electronic data eventually will replace most paper documents and provide much information about students to school officials through desktop terminals. It is the responsibility of each school official to understand his or her legal responsibilities under FERPA. The same principles of confidentiality that apply to paper records also apply to electronic data.

      Guidelines for Faculty and Staff

      • DO keep any personal professional records relating to individual students separate from their education record.
      • DO NOT display student scores or grades publicly in association with names, social security numbers, or other personal identifiers.
      • DO NOT put papers, graded exam books or lab reports containing student names in publicly accessible places.
      • DO NOT access or request information from the student education record without a legitimate educational interest and the appropriate authority to do so.
      • DO NOT share student education record information, including grades or grade point average with other faculty or staff unless their official responsibilities identify their legitimate educational interest in that information for that student.
      • DO NOT share student education record information, including grades or grade point average with parents or others outside the College, including in letters of recommendation, without written permission from the student.
      • WHEN IN DOUBT, err on the side of caution and do NOT release student related information. Contact the Registrar's Office for guidance.

      View the student version of FERPA »

Last Update: May 18 2011
For additional information, contact: 860-512-3210