FERPA Applicability

In general, FERPA applies to institutions that receive funds from the DOE or certain other Federal programs.[i]  It protects students in “education programs” at those institutions.[ii]  The DOE amended its regulations implementing FERPA in 2011 to broaden “the term ‘education program” [to include] any program principally engaged in the provision of education, including, but not limited to, early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education.”[iii] The DOE has an annual budget of $68.1 billion. According to the DOE budget office, the DOE serves “nearly 16,000 school districts and approximately 49 million students attending more than 98,000 public schools and 28,000 private schools.”[iv]  Additionally, DOE provides financial aid to more than 15 million postsecondary students.[v]

To say that the reach of FERPA is broad would be an immense understatement.  FERPA concerns are ubiquitous amongst education administrators.[vi]  Educational programs have taken great measures to train their staff on privacy issues in an effort to comply with FERPA.[vii]

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. 


[i] 20 U.S.C.A. 1232(g) (West 2012).

[ii] Id.

[iii] See generally, Family Educational Rights and Privacy, 76 FR 75604.

[iv] U.S. Department of Education Budget office, at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OUS/budget.html (Date accessed: July 9, 2012).

[v] Id.

[vi] See Nancy E. Tribbensee and Steven J. McDonald, “FERPA Allows More than You May Realize,” Inside Higher Ed, August 7, 2007.  Available at http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/08/07/ferpa. (Date accessed: June 15, 2012).

[vii] Id.