The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive federal funding. Maryville College complies with FERPA, which is designed to protect the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on students and to give students access to their records to assure the accuracy of their contents.

Understanding Federal Law

Before accessing student educational records, carefully review the FERPA policy presented in this site. Maintaining confidentiality of student educational records can be achieved by knowing a few basic requirements.

This FERPA Tutorial will help give you a basic understanding of the rules governing release of student information at Maryville College. Following the Tutorial is a short Quiz to test your understanding. Once completed, please fill out and submit the “Acknowledgement of Completion” form. Both steps are required.

1. What is FERPA?

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records.
  • FERPA applies to any educational agency or institution that receives funds under a program administered by the Secretary of Education.  Maryville College receives these funds in the form of federal financial aid disbursed to students.

2. Who is protected under FERPA?

FERPA protects the education records of any student who has ever enrolled at Maryville College.

3. What does FERPA require us to do?

A.  Keep student records confidential by ensuring that:

  • Only school officials with legitimate educational interest have access to students' education records.
  • School officials do not disclose information without students' written permission, except under certain exceptions (e.g. subpoena).

B.  Allow students to inspect, and when incorrect, to amend their education records.

C.  Notify students of these rights annually.

4. What is a school official?

Any employee or agent of the College, including YOU!

5. What are Education Records?

An education record is any record directly related to a student and maintained by the College or by a party acting for the College, such as:

  • Personal information (e.g., ID#, SSN, etc.)
  • Records of student discipline
  • Enrollment records
  • Grades/transcripts
  • Papers and tests

Education records may be in any medium including but not limited to handwriting, print, and computer media (e.g., electronic databases, learning management systems, and email) such as:

  • a document in the registrar's office
  • a computer printout in your office
  • a class list on your desktop
  • a computer display screen

6. Education Records Do Not Include:

  • Records of instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and not revealed to anyone other than the maker's substitute;
  • Records of a campus law enforcement unit created and maintained by that unit and used solely for law enforcement purposes;
  • Records relating to persons who are employees (unless they are employed as a result of their status as a student);
  • Records kept and maintained by a health care professional, used solely in connection with treatment and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment; or
  • Records which include information gathered about an individual after he or she is no longer a student.

7. What is legitimate educational interest?

A school official has a legitimate educational interest in accessing or reviewing a specific education record if the school official is:

  • Performing a task that is specified in his or her position description or contract;
  • Performing a task related to a student's education or to student discipline;
  • Providing a service or benefit related to the student or student's family (e.g., job placement, health insurance); or
  • Maintaining safety and security on campus.

10. What is Directory Information?

  • Name, address, telephone number, e-mail address
  • Date and place of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Grade level
  • Enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate, full-time or part-time, etc.)
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended

11. Why comply with FERPA?

  • It's the law.
  • It protects our students from potential harm.
  • It's a requirement of your job.

12. How can I make sure I'm complying with FERPA?

  • Access only records you need.  Having access to student information does not give you unrestricted rights to view that information.  Only access what you need to do to do your job, and avoid reading records that may be lying on an employee's desk or pulled up on a computer.
  • Handle student information in a secure way.  Do not leave student records on copy machines, in classrooms, pulled up on your computer screen, or laying face up on your desk if others can see it.
  • Release information only as needed.  Share student information with your colleagues only when they have a legitimate educational interest in that particular information. 
  • Contact the Office of the Registrar.  Refer all requests for student information to the Office of the Registrar.  Never give student information to someone who is not the student.
  • Err on the side of caution. 

To avoid violations of FERPA rules, DO NOT:

  • At any time use a student's social security number (or any portion) in a public posting of grades.
  • Ever link the name of a student with that student's social security number or ID number in any public manner.
  • Leave graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by allowing students to sort through the papers of all students.
  • Circulate a printed class list with student name and social security number or grades as an attendance roster.
  • Discuss the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents) without the written consent of the student.
  • Provide anyone with lists of students enrolled in your classes for any commercial purpose.

In Summary

  • FERPA is a federal law requiring the College to maintain privacy of student records.
  • FERPA is everyone's responsibility.
  • Access or view student information only as needed to do your job.
  • Share student information only within the expectations outlined in this training.
  • When in doubt, don't give it out!


Check Your Understanding

For a better understanding and to gauge your knowledge, please take the following short FERPA QUIZ.