The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Students have specific, protected rights regarding the release of such records and FERPA requires that institutions adhere strictly to these guidelines.


Educational records

FERPA gives students the following rights regarding educational records:

  • The right to access educational records kept by the school;
  • The right to demand educational records be disclosed only with student consent;
  • The right to amend educational records;
  • The right to file complaints against the school for disclosing educational records in violation of FERPA.

Students have a right to know about the purpose, content, and location of information kept as a part of their educational records. They also have a right to expect that information in their educational records will be kept confidential unless they give permission to the school to disclose such information. Educational records are defined by FERPA as records that directly relate to a student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

Educational records are directly related to the student and are either maintained by the school or by a party or organization acting on behalf of the school. Such records may include:

  • Written documents (including student advising folders)
  • Computer media
  • Microfilm and microfiche
  • Video or audio tapes or CDs
  • Film
  • Photographs

Any record that contains personally identifiable information that is directly related to the student is an educational record under FERPA. This information can also include records kept by the school in the form of student files, student system databases kept in storage devices such as servers, or recordings or broadcasts which may include student projects.
Records Not Considered As Educational Records

The following items are not considered educational records under FERPA:

  • Private notes of individual staff or faculty; (NOT kept in student advising folders)
  • Campus police records;
  • Medical records;
  • Statistical data compilations that contain no mention of personally identifiable information about any specific student.

Faculty notes, data compilation, and administrative records kept exclusively by the maker of the records that are not accessible or revealed to anyone else are not considered educational records and, therefore, fall outside of the FERPA disclosure guidelines. However, these records may be protected under other state or federal laws such as the doctor/patient privilege. As an attorney, I recommend that you check to make sure that you fully comply with these disclosure guidelines before disseminating any of this information.

There are two types of educational records as defined under FERPA. Each type of educational record is afforded different disclosure protections.

Directory information
Some information in a student's educational record is defined as directory information under FERPA. Under a strict reading of FERPA, the school may disclose this type of information without the written consent of the student. However, the student can exercise the option to restrict the release of directory information by submitting a formal request to the school to limit disclosures. Directory information may include:
  • Student’s name
  • Hometown, High School attended
  • Full Time, Part Time enrollment
  • Approval candidacy for graduation
  • Major Field of Study
  • Enrollment Status
  • Dates of attendance
  • The most recent educational agency or institution attended
  • Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • Height and weight of student-athletes
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports

I understand that Carl Sandburg College has the right to report similar information to its controlling agencies for non-public use. I also realize that this nondisclosure can be superseded by the legal system. Otherwise, any release of this type of information must have my signed and dated written permission.

Non-directory information

Non-directory information is any educational record not considered directory information. Non-directory information must not be released to anyone, including the parents of the student, without the prior written consent of the student. Further, faculty and staff can access non-directory information only if they have a legitimate academic need to do so. Non-directory information may include:

  • Social security numbers;
  • Student identification number;
  • Race, ethnicity, and/or nationality;
  • Gender
  • Transcripts; grade reports

Transcripts are non-directory information and, therefore, are protected educational records under FERPA. Students have a right to privacy regarding transcripts held by the school where third parties seek transcript copies. 

Prior written consent

Students have the right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as including, but not limited to an attorney, auditor,  collection agent, or computer software contractor or consultant, or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions); a volunteer; a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

Carl Sandburg College does not need prior written consent to disclose non-directory information where the health and safety of the student are at issue when complying with a judicial order or subpoena, or where, as a result of a crime of violence, a disciplinary hearing was conducted by the school, a final decision was recorded, and the alleged victim seeks disclosure. For the college to be able to disseminate non-directory information in these instances, FERPA requires that institutions annually publish the policies and procedures that the institutions will follow in order to meet FERPA guidelines.

Any questions regarding FERPA, a request to view student records or withholding directory information should be directed to the office of Records and Registration (room E100). Upon request, the office has 30 days to comply with a request to view educational records upon the request of a student.

All requests to withhold any directory information should be made during the first two weeks of a given term (Fall, Spring, Summer). The information will be held through the continuous attendance of the student and will only be discontinued by the written request of the student.  FERPA has strict guidelines regarding disclosing the educational records of dependent students.  

The guidelines for FERPA are issued by the federal government. Carl Sandburg College strictly adheres to the policies set by the federal and state governmental bodies.

The USA Patriot Act of 2001 allows senior federal justice officials to obtain a court order requiring an institution to turn over educational records in connection with a terrorism investigation or prosecution. The request must be based on specific facts, giving a reason to believe that the records are likely to contain relevant information. The information-gathering powers of the USA Patriot Act apply only to a crime of terrorism. Law enforcement officials seeking educational records in connection with any other crime still must obtain a subpoena.

Procedure to Inspect Educational Records
Students may inspect and review their education records upon request to the appropriate record custodian. Students should submit to the record custodian a written request which identifies as precisely as possible the record or records he or she wishes to inspect. The record custodian will make the needed arrangements for access as promptly as possible and will notify the student of the time and place where the record(s) may be inspected. Access must be given in 45 days or less from the receipt of the request. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the records which relate to him or her.
Optional disclosure of private mental health information

A student has the right to authorize the College, in writing, to disclose his or her private mental health information to a person of the student’s choosing. For additional information, please contact Autumn Scott 309.341.5422 or or visit

Please be advised that, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. Section 1232g and its regulations at 34 CFR Section 99.36, the College may disclose a student’s private information to persons who need to know that information in the event of or to avert a health or safety emergency, even if those persons have not been designated by the student on his/her Student Optional Disclosure of Private Mental Health Information Form.