FERPA Overview

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) 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 applies to the education records of persons who are or have been in attendance in postsecondary institutions, including students in cooperative and correspondence study programs, video conference, satellite, internet or other electronic forms.

FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for admission who are denied acceptance or to deceased students.

FERPA gives eligible students the right to:

  • inspect and review their education records maintained by UNC;
  • request that UNC corrects records which the student believes to be inaccurate or misleading. If UNC decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if UNC still decides not to amend the record, the student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth the student’s view about the contested information;
  • have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their education records and
  • file a complaint with the Department of Education.

Generally, schools must have written permission from a student in order to release any information from their education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Directory Information as identified by UNC;
  • Other schools to which the student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to the student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities pursuant to specific State law.