77. DoEd: Exceptions to FERPA Requirements

Updated Oct. 4, 2019

Under specific conditions, exceptions exist for the requirement to obtain parental or adult-student consent to release student records for research. The University IRB has the authority to grant such exceptions.

FERPA Exception 1: Disclosure of Education Records Consisting Solely of Directory Information

Directory information may include:

  • name,
  • address,
  • telephone number,
  • email address,
  • major field of study,
  • participation in officially recognized activities and athletics (including Greek organizations),
  • weight and height measurements for members of athletic teams,
  • dates of attendance,
  • enrollment status (e.g., full-, half-, part-time; undergraduate or graduate),
  • degrees and awards received, and
  • the most recent educational agency or institution the student has attended.

University and affiliate PIs to use directory information for students at non-University sites are advised to contact the school district, external institution, or other oversight body for information and permission.

External investigators wishing to use directory information for research involving University faculty, students, or staff must obtain permission from the official responsible for protecting the privacy of the information being requested. Such external research does not require review or approval by a University IRB but may require approval from the IRB at the investigators’ home institutions.

FERPA Exception 2: Disclosure of Education Records for Research Conducted for Educational Agencies

The IRB may grant an exception to FERPA requirements if the disclosure of student education records is to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies or institutions for the following reasons:

  • to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
  • to administer student aid programs; or
  • to improve instruction;

Investigators requesting FERPA Exception 2 must provide the IRB with documentation of an agreement between the researcher and applicable educational institution. The agreement must include the following:

  • statement that the exception will be granted;
  • statement about the purpose, scope, and duration of the study;
  • description or list of the information to be disclosed;
  • statement that information from education records will only be used to meet the purposes of the study as described in the agreement; and
  • assurances of compliance with the current requirements in 34 CFR 99.31(a)(6) on re-disclosure and destruction of information.

The agreement must include the following

  • Statement the study will be conducted in a manner that does not permit personal identification of parents and students by anyone other than members of the research team.
  • Statement the researchers will destroy or return all personally identifiable information when no longer needed for the purposes of the study.
  • Specification of the time period during which the researchers must either destroy or return the information.

FERPA Exception 3: Disclosure of Education Records Containing No Personally Identifiable Information

Investigators wishing use exception 3 to FERPA requirements must provide the IRB with a confirmatory statement that the following personally identifiable information will be excluded from the data set:

  • direct personal identifiers such as student’s name, and social security and student ID numbers;
  • indirect identifiers, such as
    • the name of the student’s parent or other family members;
    • the student’s or family’s address,
    • personal characteristics or other information that would make the student’s identity easily traceable, and
    • date and place of birth and mother’s maiden name;
  • biometric records (i.e., measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual) including
    • fingerprints,
    • retina and iris patterns,
    • voiceprints,
    • DNA sequence,
    • facial characteristics, and
    • handwriting; and
  • other information that alone or in combination, would allow a reasonable person in the school community to identify an individual student with reasonable certainty.