The Basics of FERPA

What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational records. It also provides guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student education records.

Who is covered by FERPA?
Students who are currently attending or have ever attended NMU. Rights begin on the first day of class during their first semester of enrollment (this includes dual enrolled high school students). Prior to the first day of class, they are NOT covered under FERPA.

What rights are granted to students by FERPA?

FERPA grants students four primary rights:

  1. The right to inspect and review their own education records.
  2. The right to seek to have those records amended.
  3. The right to have some control over the disclosure of information from their records.
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Education if they feel NMU has not complied with the requirements of FERPA.

What are education records (and covered by FERPA)?

Education records are all records that directly relate to a student and are maintained by the University. These records can be in any form: handwritten, print, type, film, electronic, etc.

What is not an education record (and not covered by FERPA)?

  1. Personal notes kept by a faculty/staff member if no one else sees them or has access to them.
  2. Any observations made (but not documented) by a faculty or staff member in regard to the student.
  3. Information collected after the student has graduated from the University (alumni records).

What information can be released?

  1. Directory information, as defined below by the University (if the student has not restricted that information).
  2. Information that the student has given written consent to release.
  3. Information needed by NMU employees who have a legitimate educational interest (information needed to perform their job duties).
  4. Information needed by certain government agencies.

What is considered directory information?

  • Name
  • Address and phone number (local and permanent)
  • NMU e-mail address
  • Dates of attendance, enrollment status, degrees earned, honors, awards, participation in officially recognized University activities and sports (includes height and weight of student athletes), current term candidacy for degrees and/or teaching certification.
  • Program level, class standing, major/minor.
  • Photographs