76. Additional DoEd Regulations - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Updated June 23, 2021

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FERPA is the abbreviation used for Department of Education (DoEd) regulations (at 34 CFR 99) that apply to the protection of academic records for educational institutions receiving funding from the DoEd.

University requirements for maintaining the confidentiality and security of student educational records may be found in the student privacy policy on the University website.

Comprehensive information about FERPA may be found online at the US Department of Education website: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Overview of FERPA Requirements

FERPA requires written authorization from the student (if over 18), or parent or guardian of minor-students before schools may release identified student academic information. FERPA requirements apply to investigators conducting research involving academic information even when this information is obtained from or about their own students. The ability to meet FERPA exceptions outlined at 77. DoEd: Exceptions to FERPA Requirements to the need for signed consent or parental permission in these scenarios is rare. Therefore, researchers who anticipate conducting research with their students’ academic coursework and other related records should plan to seek written consent and/or parental permission at the outset of course initiation. Obtaining consent post course or having another agent redact coursework so that the researchers no longer can identify students is typically a more involved approach. University and affiliate investigators conducting research invoking FERPA must identify the specific information that will be requested or obtained including:

  • directory information such as name, address, attendance, and degrees received; and
  • academic or education records such as standardized and classroom tests, and classroom assignments.
  • Academic or education records include the following formats:
    • handwriting,
    • print,
    • computer media,
    • video or audio tape,
    • film, and
    • microfilm and microfiche
  • Investigators using student records for research must provide the following information:
    • the purpose and use of the student records,
    • justification for including personal identifiers among the data set (if applicable),
    • identification of the parties to whom the information will be disclosed,
    • description of the process for obtaining written parent or adult-student permission for the use or disclosure of student
    • educational records, and
    • description about how the investigators will obtain access to the data.

Obtaining Permission from the University to Use Education Records for Research

University and affiliate investigators who plan to conduct research involving student records, including directory information, must abide by the University’s student privacy policy.

University and affiliate investigators are advised to:

  • specify in the exempt or IRB application the student information that will be requested and used for research;
  • describe in the exempt or IRB application how signed permission will be obtained for student information other than directory information;
  • obtain IRB approval for the project; and
  • provide the Registrar’s Office with a copy of the IRB approval letter, list of the information requested, and summary of the purpose and use of the information.

The registrar will review the request and approve the use of the information for research purposes. The registrar may require additional information or clarification before approving the request.