The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended (FERPA, aka The Buckley Amendment) is a federal law that governs the privacy, access and disclosure of student educational records.
Students may authorize the release of educational records by submitting a written and dated request to the Office of the Registrar, or by printing and submitting the attached FERPA Release Form.
Students may also seek to correct/challenge educational record information by contacting the Office of the Registrar in writing or in person. A form will be provided to specify information that needs to be amended. If the problem cannot be reconciled by the Office of the Registrar, a formal hearing may be requested with the Academic Dean or Provost of the College. Details are in the brochure link above.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL FERPA RELEASE FORMS/REQUESTS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY THE STUDENT DIRECTLY TO THE REGISTRAR’S OFFICE. IDENTIFICATION WILL BE REQUIRED. FERPA RELEASES MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED VIA MAIL, FAX, ELECTRONICALLY, OR 3RD PARTY DELIVERY.
UVa-Wise’s FERPA policy is published every year in the UVa-Wise Student Handbook.
Exceptions to FERPA
There are a number of exceptions to FERPA’s prohibition against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records. Under these exceptions, schools are permitted to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent, though they are not required to do so. Following is general information regarding some of these exceptions.
- One of the exceptions to the prior written consent requirement in FERPA allows “school officials,” including teachers, within a school to obtain access to personally identifiable information contained in education records provided the school has determined that they have “legitimate educational interest” in the information.
- Another exception permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student’s education records, without consent, to another school in which the student seeks or intends to enroll.
- FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary for such purposes as to: determine the eligibility for the aid; determine the amount of the aid; determine the conditions for the aid; and/or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
- Another exception permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is to the parents of a “dependent student” as that term is defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, if either parent has claimed the student as a dependent on the parent’s most recent year’s income tax statement, the school may non-consensually disclose the eligible student’s education records to both parents under this exception.
- Postsecondary institutions may also disclose personally identifiable information from education records, without consent, to appropriate parties, including parents of an eligible student, in connection with a health or safety emergency. Under this provision, colleges and universities may notify parents when there is a health or safety emergency involving their son or daughter, even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent.
- FERPA also permits a school to disclose personally identifiable information from education records without consent when the disclosure is to the parents of a student at a postsecondary institution regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. The school may non-consensually disclose information under this exception if the school determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession and the student is under 21 years of age at the time of the disclosure to the parent.
There are several other exceptions to FERPA’s prohibition against non-consensual disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, some of which are briefly mentioned below. Under certain conditions (specified in the FERPA regulations), a school may non-consensually disclose personally identifiable information from education records:
- to authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Education, and State and local educational authorities for audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs;
- to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of the school making the disclosure for the purposes of administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, or improving instruction;
- to comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena;
- to the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense concerning the final results of a disciplinary hearing with respect to the alleged crime; and
- to any third party the final results of a disciplinary proceeding related to a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense if the student who is the alleged perpetrator is found to have violated the school’s rules or policies. The disclosure of the final results only includes: the name of the alleged perpetrator, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed against the alleged perpetrator. The disclosure must not include the name of any other student, including a victim or witness, without the written consent of that other student.