FERPA Glossary

FERPA Glossary

Refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, enacted as Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g)

A person or business formally authorized to act on another's behalf.

Alumni Record:
"Records created or received by an educational . . . institution after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and that are not directly related to the individual's attendance as a student." 34 C.F.R. § 99.3.

A graduate or former student of a particular school, college, or university.

Includes but is not limited to (a) attendance in person or by correspondence, videoconference, satellite, Internet, or other electronic information and telecommunications technologies for students who are not physically present in the classroom and (b) the period during which a person is working under a work-study (cooperative) program 34 C.F.R. § 99.3.

Authorized Representative:
Any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in §99.31(a)(3) to conduct-with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs-any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(b)(1)(C), (b)(3), and (b)(5)

Outside parties who, for the purpose of The Act, qualify as school officials in that they are acting for the agency or institution and are subject to the same conditions governing the access and use of records that apply to other school officials.

Dates of Attendance:
The period of time during which a student attends or attended an institution. Examples of dates of attendance include an academic year and/or a semester. The term does not include specific daily records or a student's attendance pattern at the institution. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(5)(A)

Directory Information:
The information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards received, and most recent education agency or institution attended. (At Utica College directory information includes student's name; e-mail address; address of student; phone number of student; date and place of birth; year of graduate; weight and height (applicable to members of athletic teams only); previous educational institutions attended; enrollment status (full-time, half-time); photograph; major field of study; dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; degrees, honors, and awards received.) 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(5)(A)

NOTE: Items that can never be identified as directory information include a student's social security number, citizenship, gender, race, ethnicity, class schedule, religious preference, grades, and GPA.

"to permit access to, or the release of "directory information," meaning "information . . . that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed," including, but not limited to, "the student's name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors and awards received; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended." 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.31(a)(11) and 99.3.

Education Institution (or Agency):
"any public or private . . . institution" that receives funds "under any program administered by the Secretary [of Education]," most notably including the various federal financial aid programs. 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.1 and 99.3.

Education Records:
Those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution.

The term "education records" does not include the following:

  • Records of institutional, supervisory, administrative, and certain educational personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a substitute who performs on a temporary basis (as defined in the institutional personnel policy) the duties of the individual who made the records.
  • Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the education agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement.
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution which are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to individuals in their capacity as employees and are not available for use for any other purpose. (Records of individuals in attendance at an institution who are employed as a result of their status as students are education records, e.g., work-study.)
  • Records relating to a student (see the definition of "eligible student") which are (1) created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity; (2) used solely in connection with the provision of treatment to the student; and (3) not disclosed to anyone other than individuals providing such treatment, so long as the records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student's choice. (Appropriateness may be determined by the institution.) "Treatment" in this context does not include remedial educational activities or activities which are part of the program of instruction at the institution.
  • Records of an institution which contain only information relating to a person after that person is no longer a student at the institution (e.g., information gathered on the accomplishments of alumni).
  • Grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)
"Eligible Student":
A student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(d)

Enrolled Student:
The Family Policy Compliance Office has stated that each institution may determine when a student is "in attendance" in accordance with its enrollment procedures (Federal Register, July 6, 2000, p.41856).

Family Policy Compliance Office:
The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education (K-12, post-secondary).

Financial Aid:
A payment of funds to an individual (or payment in a tangible or intangible property to the individual), which is considered on the individual's attendance at an educational agency or institution. Payment made by parents is not considered financial aid.

In Attendance:
See "Enrolled Student."

Institution of Postsecondary Education:

An institution that provides education to students beyond the secondary school level. "Secondary school level" means the educational level (not beyond grade 12) at which secondary education is provided. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(d)

Law Enforcement Unit:
Any individual or other component(s) of an institution, including commissioned police officers and non-commissioned security guards, officially authorized by the institution to enforce any local, state, or federal law and to maintain the physical security and safety of the institution. (Although the unit may perform other non-law enforcement functions, it does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit.)

Law Enforcement Unit Records:
"Those records, files, documents, and other materials that are (1) created by a law enforcement unit, (2) created for a law enforcement purpose, and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit. Law enforcement records do not include: (1) records created by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose other than for the law enforcement unit; (2) records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit exclusively for non-law enforcement purposes, such as a disciplinary action or proceeding conducted by the institution" 34 C.F.R. §§ 99.3 and 99.8.

Legitimate Educational Interest:
Although the Act does not define "legitimate educational interest", it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining when their school officials have a legitimate educational interest in a student's education records. At Utica College, a school official has a "legitimate educational interest" if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

Includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian. 20 U.S.C. 1232g

Refers to an individual, agency, institution, or organization. 20 U.S.C. 1232g(b)(4)(A)

Personally Identifiable Information:
Data or information which "includes, but is not limited to,

  1. the name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members;
  2. the address of the student or the student's family;
  3. a personal identifier such as a social security number or student number;
  4. other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, or mother's maiden name;
  5. other information that alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student;
  6. information requested by a person who the educational . . . institution reasonably knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates." 34 C.F.R. § 99.3.

Any information or data recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, audio or video tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, or any other form of electronic data storage 34 C.F.R. § 99.3.

An institution disclosing personally identifiable information from an education record must inform the recipient that it cannot redisclose that information without the consent of the student and that it may use the information only for the purpose for which the disclosure was made. 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(a). Exceptions to this requirement include disclosures of directory information; disclosures to the relevant student, to the parents of a dependent student, or to parents in connection with a drug or alcohol violation; and disclosures made in connection with a court order, lawfully issued subpoena, lawsuit in which the student and the institution are adversaries, or (generally) disciplinary proceeding involving an alleged crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense. 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(c).

School Officials:
Those members of an institution who act in the student's educational interest within the limitations of their "need to know." Although the Act does not define "school officials," it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining them. At Utica College, a "school official" is any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit, health staff, and student workers); a person of a company with whom Utica College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, researcher, software consultant, a company which provides student helpdesk assistance, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; a person assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

Sole Possession Records:
"Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record." 34 C.F.R. § 99.3. For example, the private notes a professor may keep about class participation over the course of a semester, for consultation when it comes time to set final grades.

Solomon Amendment:
This 1996 amendment requires postsecondary institutions to provide Department of Defense representatives, among other things, access to student recruiting information.

Any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution for whom the agency or institution maintains education records. The term does not include an individual who has never attended the institution 34 C.F.R. § 99.3.

Student Right-to-Know Act of 1990:
Referred to in this publication as SRTK, the act requires colleges and universities to report graduation rates to current and prospective students.

A command from a court to require the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony or evidence. There are two main types of subpoenas: "duces tecum" (requires the production of documents, papers, or other tangibles) and "ad testificandum" (requires a person to testify in a particular court case).

Transfer Exception:
The disclosure to another educational institution "where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student's enrollment or transfer." 34 C.F.R. § 99.31(a)(2). " The disclosing institution must first give notice that it intends to respond to requests from other institutions for such information, either by making a "reasonable attempt" to notify the relevant students individually or - preferably - by informing all students generally in its annual notice. 34 C.F.R. § 99.34. Any prior school may disclose to the current or anticipated school under this exception, but the current or anticipated school may not use this exception to report back to prior schools.

U.S.A. Patriot Act:
It permits a post-secondary institution to disclose personally identifiable information from a student's education records-without notification of the student-to the U.S. Attorney General or his designee.

United States Code. A compilation of all federal legislation organized into 50 titles. Revised every six years with supplementary volumes issued in intervening years. The legislation related to FERPA is found in 20 U.S.C. 1232g.

Contact Us

Craig P. Dewan

Craig P. Dewan

College Registrar
123 White Hall
(315) 792-3195
(315) 792-3020 (fax)

I would like to see logins and resources for:

For a general list of frequently used logins, you can also visit our logins page.