Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, affords certain rights to students concerning their education records. FERPA provides for the right to inspect and review education records, the right to seek to amend those records, and the right to limit disclosure of information from the records. FERPA applies to all institutions that receive federal funds under any program administered by the Secretary of Education.
Students who are currently enrolled in higher education institutions or were formerly enrolled are protected. The records of students who are deceased are not protected under FERPA. Students who have applied, but have not attended an institution, do not have rights of protection.
Education records are those records that are directly related to students and are maintained by an educational institution or party authorized to keep records for the institution. Education records include any records in the possession of an employee that are shared with or accessible to another individual.
Records may be handwritten or in the form of print, magnetic tape, film or some other medium. FERPA coverage includes records, files, documents and data directly related to students. This includes transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which a student was previously enrolled.
Examples of education records include, but are not limited to:
- Biographical information including gender, nationality, race and ethnicity, and identification photos
- Grades, test scores, evaluations, and courses taken
- 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 records
- Internship program records
Education records do not include:
- Sole possession notes or private notes no one else can find or see
- Law enforcement or campus security records
- Employee records
- Medical records
- Alumni records
Directory information is information available about a student that is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. While FERPA protects the privacy of education records, directory information is not treated as confidential and may be disclosed by the university without student consent unless the student requests a confidentiality.
At WKU, the following has been designated as directory information:
- Student name
- Local/permanent addresses; telephone number(s) and email address
- Date and place of birth
- Major field of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities/sports
- Weight/height of members of athletic teams
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and awards received and dates
- Most recent previous educational institution attended
- Enrollment status (full-time, part-time, withdrawn, and date of withdrawal)
Non-directory information refers to information that generally cannot be released without the student's consent. This includes:
- Disciplinary status
- GPA (grade point average)
- Marital status
- Social security number
- Grades/exam scores
- Number of hours enrolled
- Class Schedule
Students may submit a privacy form to the Office of the Registrar in Potter Hall 233 requesting all information remain confidential. If a student has a privacy form on file, WKU cannot release any directory information about the student.
FERPA is a federal law. Violation of the law may result in the loss of federal money given to WKU.
Please note: This information has been developed by the Office of the Registrar to provide general information about the law and procedures related to accessing confidential student information and to provide guidance on commonly asked questions or situations faced by faculty, staff, students and parents. It is for information purposes only; this information is not university policy nor is it intended as legal advice. Questions pertaining to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be directed to the University Registrar, 238 Potter Hall, (270) 745-5432.