Student Privacy Rights

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment is a federal law that sets forth requirements regarding  the privacy of student records. With limited exceptions, FERPA applies to all records maintained about a student and is not limited to a student's academic records.

Who has FERPA rights at the college level?

FERPA rights belong to the student at a postsecondary institution regardless of age. Student applies to all students, regardless of whether they are taking classes for credit or non-credit or the means by which the instruction takes place e.g. face-to-face or through distance learning. FERPA protects the education records of persons who are, or have been, in attendance at the institution. FERPA does not apply to records of applicants for admission who are denied acceptance or, if accepted, do not attend the institution.

What FERPA rights are given to students?

  • Right to inspect and review their education records.
  • Right to request to amend their education records.
  • Right to limit disclosure of "personally identifiable information" (information that would directly identify the student or make the student's identity easily traceable) known as directory information.
  • Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning an alleged failure by the institution to comply with FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
    • Family Policy Compliance Office
      U.S. Department of Education
      400 Maryland Avenue, SW
      Washington, DC  20202-5901 

What are education records under FERPA?

FERPA applies to all education records maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution, which are directly related to a students. A record is "directly related" to a student if it is personally identifiable to the student. Such documents may include transcripts, financial aid records, letters of recommendation or reprimand, class schedules, department and college files, electronic records and e-mail, and disciplinary files. Education records are not: sole possession records, law enforcement unit records, employment records, medical records, or post-attendance records.

What is directory information?

Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. FERPA allows institutions to designate certain types of information, commonly known as "directory information," that may be released without the student's consent. The following information has been designated as directory information at Tallahassee Community College:  
  • Student's name
  • Place of birth
  • Major field of study
  • Participation in recognized activities and sports
  • Degrees, academic honors, and awards
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment Status (i.e., full-time, part-time)
  • Photographs*
*Although TSC has designated photographs as directory information, these will appear only in TSC generated information such as the College publications and website.
Students may choose to withhold all, or some, of the designated directory information by completing the Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information form in the Admissions and Records office. Photo identification is required to complete this form.  Once this occurs, any future release of such information requires written permission of the student.
Students should be aware  that, according to the Code of Federal Regulations 99.31(A)(1)(i)(B), TSC may disclose information to third parties outside of the institution to whom the College has outsourced services or functions. One such example is a collection agency acting on behalf of TSC.