Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

Detailed information on FERPA is available online under College Policies and at the U.S. Department of Education. All faculty members should also complete the online FERPA training, available under “Training and Reporting” on the faculty/staff portal.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.” Passed by Congress in 1974, the Act grants specific rights to eligible students:

  • the right to see the information that the institution is keeping on the student
  • the right to seek amendment to those records and, in certain cases, append a statement to the record
  • the right to consent to disclosure of his or her records
  • the right to limit disclosure of some “directory information”
  • the right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C.

“Educational records” are defined as all records that contain information directly related to a student maintained by an educational agency or institution. These records may include:

  • All personal information about students
  • Enrollment records
  • Grades, schedules, class lists, or any lists of students
  • Computer printouts and hard-copy documents
  • Information displayed on a computer screen
  • Notes taken about a student (i.e., during an advising session or office visit)

Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student. As a faculty or staff member and representative of the college, you have a responsibility to protect the privacy of all educational records in your possession or which you may have access to in the course of your employment.

Some information is considered public and is referred to as “directory information.” This information may usually be released without the student’s written permission. However, students may also choose to restrict access to their directory information. In such cases, their directory information is also considered confidential.

Directory information at Purchase College includes the student’s name, home address and phone, email address, dates of attendance, major fields of study and degrees, matriculation status, full-time or part-time status, photographs, class level, awards, athletes’ height and weight, and participation in recognized college activities.

You have been granted the privilege of accessing this information for legitimate educational use in completion of your responsibilities as a Purchase College employee. “Need to know” is the basic principle.


  • leave graded tests or papers in a place where students will retrieve them by sorting through the papers of other students.
  • discuss the progress of any student with anyone (including parents) other than the student without the consent of the student.
  • disclose any information about students over the telephone or via email or fax to anyone other than Purchase College employees who are known to you. If you are not familiar with the person who is inquiring, ask that person to come see you.
  • provide anyone with student schedules or assist anyone other than Purchase College employees in finding a student on campus.

When in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar at (914) 251-6361.