Do you know what’s in your education record?
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs disclosure of information in student educational records. The law broadly defines educational records as: records, files, documents, and other materials that: a) contain information directly related to a student; and b) are maintained by an educational agency or institution. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A); 34 CFR § 99.3. A record is “directly related” to a student if it identifies the student on its face, or if the student’s identity can be deduced from the demographic, descriptive or other information, either alone or in combination with other publicly available information. This definition is broad enough to encompass virtually all records maintained by a college or university, including transcripts, academic records, exams, financial aid records, disciplinary records, housing contracts, disability services records, and even email messages between administrators.
FERPA allows students to inspect and review their education records for accuracy, and provides a procedure for challenging the accuracy of those records. If a student requests his or her educational record, it must be provided within 45 days. 34 C.F.R. § 99.10. Since schools designate custodians for each of these records, check your school’s website for instructions on how to request your education record under FERPA.
Generally, to see your education record, you should request records from the University or Graduate School, as well as the particular college, department or program in the University. The request is usually directed to the appropriate academic Dean, and the Deans of the college, school, department or graduate program in which you are enrolled. A separate request may be necessary for disciplinary records, which are often located in the Office of Student Judicial Services, Student Affairs, Student Rights and Responsibilities, or the Dean of Students. If you want records about incidents that took place in the dorms or residence halls, a separate request to the Office of Residential Life may be necessary. Relevant records may also be located in the Office of Disability Services, athletic departments, the Office of Financial Records, the Bursar’s Office or the Office of the Registrar (academic records, transcripts, exams, and application materials). Finally, don’t forget to request records from any field placements or clinical programs.