The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law of the United States of America designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the US Department of Education. 

FERPA states that students have the right to inspect and review all of their own educational records, which are maintained by the school. Only the student can request access to his/her own records. 

Students have the right to request that a school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement in the file describing the contested information. 

Generally, schools must have explicit permission from the student before releasing any information from a student’s record. However, the law allows schools to disclose records, without consent, to the following parties: 

  • A member of the AUP community with a legitimate educational interest and in order to fulfill his/her official responsibilities. School officials (university employees and representatives of agencies under contract with the University) have “legitimate educational interest” if the information needed is essential in carrying out their duties in support of AUP’s educational mission; 
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring; 
  • Certain government officials, in order to carry out lawful functions; 
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid; 
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for the school; 
  • Accrediting organizations; 
  • Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas; and 
  • Persons who need to know in cases of health and safety emergencies. 

If permission is granted by the student, the school may disclose “directory” information, such as enrollment, semesters attended, college level, full-time/part-time, major, and degree. 

According to FERPA, a student’s grades are confidential and may not be released, even to his/her parents, without the student’s explicit consent. 

At the start of every semester, students must verify their privacy settings in regard to the release of directory, address, and grade information. 

At any time, students can change their privacy settings online and inform themselves about their rights under FERPA.