What is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The following section give detailed information about FERPA and the right of students under this 1974 law.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, students have the right to inspect and review most education records maintained about them by the University of Wisconsin-Madison; universities are also required to keep student educational records confidential from third parties absent a written consent signed by the student in question.  Approximately twelve (12) categories of information (known as "directory information") are considered public unless a student asks that some or all of that information be withheld (see FERPA- Key Terms). The Office of the Registrar, in its capacity as the official custodian of student records, provides information about FERPA compliance as it pertains to students, faculty, and staff (please see Student Privacy Rights (FERPA) ).  

University policy states that:   

No one outside the University shall have access to, nor will the contents of students' education records be disclosed without the written consent of the students except as provided by the Act.

Exceptions provided in the Act include:

  1. personnel within the institution who have a legitimate educational interest in the records,
  2. officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll or are enrolled,
  3. persons or organizations providing student financial aid; accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function,
  4. persons in compliance with lawfully issued subpoenas and judicial orders and
  5. persons in an emergency when necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.

The Registrar has developed guidelines for faculty and staff to facilitate the education of staff who are expected to comply with FERPA. Compliance with these regulations is a serious concern for the University since penalties for non-compliance include withholding of Federal payments from applicable programs.   Please note that FERPA can and will affect what have, in the past, been ordinary practices in academia, such as the posting of grades or sharing student contact information. 

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Keywords:FERPA, Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, Student Privacy Rights   Doc ID:37952
Owner:Tori R.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2014-02-25 16:06 CDTUpdated:2014-06-17 16:00 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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