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FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law designed to help protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA provides eligible students the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to amend incorrect education records and to limit disclosure of information from their education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.

FERPA protects the education records of students who are currently enrolled or formerly enrolled regardless of their age. The education records of students who have applied to but have not attended an institution are not subject to FERPA guidelines, nor are deceased students.

Education records

According to FERPA an education record, with limited exception, is a record which is maintained by the institution, directly related to the student, and from which a student can be identified. Based on this definition, records from virtually all academic, financial, and administrative offices fall under the FERPA umbrella.

Directory information

Western Michigan University, in accordance with FERPA, has designated the following categories of information about individual students as directory information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • WMU e-mail address
  • Curriculum and major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status (full/part-time)
  • Degrees/awards received
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight/height of members of athletic teams

Directory information is subject to disclosure without the consent of the student. Students do have the right to request that any or all Directory Information not be released without their written consent. To invoke this right, a student must complete the confidentiality form and return the signed form to the Registrar’s Office. This notice will then remain in effect until it is revoked in writing by the student.

Information can be shared within the University among appropriate university personnel having legitimate educational interest in the records.

Non-directory information can be released if a signed and dated consent is obtained from the student. The consent must specify the records that may be disclosed, state the purpose of disclosure, and identify the party or parties to whom the disclosure may be made. Students may request that the information disclosed be released to them as well.

Problems or questions

If you have problems or questions regarding the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act you may contact the Office of the Registrar.

For more information on FERPA, contact:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20202-5920
Phone (202) 260-3887 USA

ferpa@ed.gov