Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Education Record?
- Education records are records that are directly related to a student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution. These records include but are not limited to grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, health records (at the K-12 level), student financial information (at the postsecondary level), and student discipline files. The information may be recorded in any way, including, but not limited to: handwriting, print, computer media, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, and e-mail. Source: 34 CFR § 99.2
- In some cases, a stepparent may be considered a “parent” under FERPA if the stepparent is present on a day-to-day basis with the natural parent and child and the other parent is absent from that home. Conversely, a stepparent who is not present on a day-to-day basis in the home of the child does not have rights under FERPA with respect to the child’s education records. A grandparent or other caregiver who is acting in the absence of the parent(s) may also be considered a “parent” under FERPA. Source: 34 CFR § 99.3
- Generally, yes. Unless a school is provided with evidence that there is a court order, State law, or other legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation, or custody that specifically provides to the contrary, FERPA gives custodial and noncustodial parents alike certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. A school may ask for legal certification denoting parenthood, such as a birth certificate or court order, from the parent requesting access. Source: 34 CFR § 99.4
- If a student is attending a postsecondary institution – at any age – the rights under FERPA have transferred to the student. However, in a situation where a student is enrolled in both a high school and a postsecondary institution, the two schools may exchange information on that student. If the student is under 18, the parents still retain the rights under FERPA at the high school and may inspect and review any records sent by the postsecondary institution to the high school. Additionally, the postsecondary institution may disclose personally identifiable information from the student’s education records to the parents, without the consent of the eligible student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under the IRS rules.