FERPA is a complex and technical law that was originally passed in 1974. Primarily it provides parents and eligible students the right to inspect and correct education records, and to keep those records private. What is commonly referred to as “FERPA” is in actuality both the law found in 20 U.S.C. § 1232g as well as the regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education and codified at 34 C.F.R. § 99.
FERPA rights for students under the age of eighteen, or for students at institutions lower than the postsecondary level are granted to the students’ parents. Students over the age of eighteen, or who are enrolled at a postsecondary institution are referred to as “eligible students” and are granted the right to make their own decisions about their education records. While there are several exceptions to the requirements of FERPA, in general, a student’s education records may not be disclosed to third parties without consent of the eligible student or parent.
Text adapted from Vavricka, J. “Making FERPA Work for our Nation’s Children,” Second Year Seminar Paper, University of Hawai’i, William S. Richardson School of Law, July 10, 2012.