FERPA Frequently Asked Questions

What are educational records?

Information recorded in any form that is directly related to a student and maintained by the college and by those acting on behalf of the college is an educational record and protected under FERPA. This information includes personal/demographic data, enrollment records, grades, schedules, and petitions. The medium in which the information exists does not have bearing on the information's status as an educational record; record storage media can include a document in the admissions office (once a student enrolls), a computer printout, a class list, or a computer display.

Examples of information that are NOT included in the definition of educational record include:

  1. Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
  2. Records of the law enforcement unit of an educational agency or institution.
  3. Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational agency or institution that
    1. Are made and maintained in the normal course of business;
    2. Related exclusively to the individual in that individual's capacity as an employee;
    3. Are not available for use for any other purpose
  4. Records on a student who is 18 years of age or older, or is attending an institution of postsecondary education, that are:
    1. Made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity;
    2. Made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student;
    3. Disclosed only to individual providing treatment. For the purpose of this definition, treatment does not include remedial educational activities or activities that are part of the program of instruction at the agency or institution
  5. Records created or received by an educational agency or institution after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and that are not directly related to the individual's attendance as a student;
  6. Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher.

What is the right to inspect and review?

Florida SouthWestern State College must grant a student's request to review his or her educational record within 45 days after the request is received by the Registrar's Office.

What is prior written consent?

A student's written consent to release protected information is a signed and dated document that defines the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the identity of the person to whom records will be disclosed.

Can a professor or staff member discuss a student's academic performance?

A student's academic performance is part of his or her record. Without prior written consent, discussing academic performance with anyone other than the student is a violation of FERPA.

When is written consent from the student not required to disclose protected information?

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (The following is not an exhaustive list of exceptions):

  1. To school officials with a legitimate educational interest
  2. To officials of other schools to which a student is transferring
  3. To federal, state, and local authorities in connection with an audit or evaluation of state or federally supported educational programs
  4. Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
  5. Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school
  6. To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena
  7. Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies