FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

FERPA Compliance

  • FERPA is an acronym for the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974, as amended.
  • This law protects the privacy of student educational records and gives students the right to refuse to permit any educational institution, including Iowa Lakes, from releasing or disclosing any information about them.
  • The purpose of FERPA is to identify the student rights pertaining to their educational records. Those rights include:
    • The right to inspect and review their educational records
    • The right to have their records amended
    • The right to control the disclosure of information from their records
  • FERPA sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student educational records and limits the release of personally identifiable information.
  • FERPA governs release of these records maintained by an educational institution and access to these records.
  • Coverage under this act begins upon enrollment.  It also protects former students and student records from other institutions.
    • High school students enrolled in a college class are considered college students and fall under FERPA guidelines.
    • Parents and/or legal guardians cannot be given any information regarding classroom performance or grades unless there is a signed consent form on file in the Registrar’s office.
  • Compliance with FERPA regulations allows Iowa Lakes to offer Title IV funding (federal financial aid) to students

What is an “Educational Record?”

An “Educational Record” is any record maintained by the institution or its affiliates which is related to the student, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Academic records, regardless of their location
  • Advising records
  • Class notes and grades
  • Instructor records
  • Financial Aid Information and account records
  • Photographs
  • E-mails containing personally identifiable information about the student
  • All media including, but not limited to electronic data, video and audiotape
  • Letters to, from, or about students
  • Grade books –
  • Records kept by an affiliate of the institution, such as work experience or clinical notes etc. kept by the entity where the student is learning
  • Student conduct records
  • Disability records
  • Notes in any student information system or hand written and shared with others
  • Aggregate data that is grouped in such a way that someone could discern the identity of a student
  • Any written document, whether formal or informal that contains personally identifiable information about a student that is shared with another individual or individuals, becomes an educational record
  • Records that are publicly available elsewhere
  • Information that the student has publicly revealed

An Educational record does NOT include:

  • Information that is not “recorded” – that is personal knowledge.
    • Records or notes in the sole possession of the maker that are not accessible or revealed to any other person
    • Information not shared or accessible; kept by a single person as a “memory jogger.”  For example, the private notes an instructor may keep during the course of a semester for consultation when it comes time to set final grades
  • grades on peer-graded papers until collected and recorded
  • Employment records that have no relationship to student status
  • Law Enforcement records
  • Admission records, unless or until the prospect becomes an active student

Information: Confidential or Directory:

  • Directory Information,” can be released without the student’s written permission, UNLESS the student opts to consider directory information “confidential “

When the student elect’s privacy of their directory information, DO NOT RELEASE INFORMATION about the student

  • Confidential information” can only be released with the written consent of the student

Directory Information at Iowa Lakes:

This information is considered directory information or public information and may be released unless specifically restricted by action of the student. It is best practice to refer any inquiry about student information to the Records Office.

Name Address Phone number Email address
Date of Birth (and yet this is now under greater scrutiny) Major field of study Participation in officially recognized activities and sports Weight/height (athletics only)
Dates of attendance Academic honors Degrees and awards Full-time/part- time status
Previous schools attended Photographic


You can reference Student Handbook or webpages for this information.


Confidential Information

Confidential information can only be released with the written consent of the student.

Examples of confidential information:

  • Social Security number
  • Current class schedule
  • Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Academic Standing
  • Grades
  • Test scores
  • Transcripts
  • Enrollment verification for financial aid/health or car insurance
  • Good student discount certification forms
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race

Third Party Inquiries

  • Forward all third party inquiries regarding a student to the Registrar’s Office
  • Direct requests for lists of directory information to the Registrar.
  • Written consent from the student must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office to disclose student record information to a third party. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Transcripts
    • Release of information to parents/legal guardians and spouses
    • Prospective Employers

FERPA Inspection/Review

Students have the right to inspect and review information contained in their educational records.  The student must make a written request to the Director of Records and Registration.

Health and Safety Emergencies

Institutions may release information from education records, without consent, in connection with an “articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals”

Disclosure may be made only to “appropriate parties” and must be limited to “information [that] is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals”

Verification of Student’s Identification/E-mail Contact

  • If e-mailing, ensure email address being used matches the e-mail address listed in student’s record
  • If email does not match, respond that you are only able to fulfill their request to the official email address on file

Posting/emailing student information

Never post or e-mail confidential student information to anyone but that student.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Grades
  • Feedback on assignments
  • Academic/course progress

Phone Contact

  • Do not release grade information or performance in a class, including, but not limited to, feedback on assignments or tests, clinical experiences, critiques of papers, and coop work experiences over the phone.
  • If a third party calls and provides the students’ SSN in an attempt to obtain directory information, the requested information cannot be disclosed at that time. It is suggested that you ask that the request for information be faxed or mailed to the Registrar’s office.

Please adhere to the following:

  • Lock your computer and/or log out when you walk away from your computer, whether on campus, at home, or in any other venue.
  • If you use a thumb drive–remove from your computer if it contains private student information
  • Carefully protect access to your passwords
  • Carefully log out of any publicly accessible computer and ensure that you have not saved any passwords or data on the hard drive

Your Access to Records

FERPA permits college officials access and use of student records for legitimate educational purposes.

Legitimate educational purpose” is defined as a college official’s need to know in order to perform a job related task, an instructional task, a service or benefit for the student.

  • Service or benefit such as counseling, student financial aid, or student job placement, etc.

As an employee of Iowa Lakes, you have access to student records on a “need to know” basis. Accessing or using student information for other than legitimate educational purposes is strictly prohibited.  Their confidentiality, use, and release are governed by FERPA.  You have a responsibility to protect all education records in your possession or that you come in contact with during the course of your job.

Violation of FERPA is Serious

It can lead to:

  • Possible prosecution under criminal codes
  • Dismissal or Termination
  • Loss of Federal funding to the institution

If you have questions about what is permitted under the Act, contact the Registrar.

Barb Grandstaff