The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 details specific rights afforded to the student in regards to their academic record. It prohibits the institution from disclosing most information from a student’s education record to many third parties without the student’s written consent.

FERPA Resources

FERPA for Students

It’s important for students to know their rights under FERPA, because this federal law protects the privacy of your education record and has an impact on who has access to your information. Once you are in attendance at Carleton (officially registered for and attending a course that has begun), FERPA rights transfer to the student regardless of their age.

What are my rights under FERPA?

  • The right to consent to the disclosure of your education record
  • The right to inspect and review your educational record
  • The right to request an amendment to your educational record
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office

What is an “education record?”

Your education record is any file, document, or other material that is related to you as a student that is maintained by Carleton or by anyone acting on behalf of the College. Education records come in many varieties, and can be on paper or maintained electronically. In order for protected information from your education record to be released to most third parties, the College must receive written consent from you. Some examples of what is included in your protected education record are:

  • grades
  • class enrollment history and class schedules
  • disciplinary records
  • financial records

Some examples of what is not considered to be part of your education record, and therefore are not subject to FERPA are:

  • sole possession records (records made by faculty or staff that are not shared with others; often these are notes used for someone’s own later reference)
  • College law enforcement records
  • medical and mental health records used only for the student’s treatment
  • alumni records generated after the student as graduated

The College also maintains “directory information,” which does not require your written approval to release as it is considered to be information that would not be generally harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. This information is detailed in the College’s Student Records policy. Although the College may release this information without your written approval, the College releases this information rarely and only with appropriate justification by the requester.

How do I control the release of my educational records?

Per FERPA, protected records can only be released with the student’s prior written consent. Consent must include the record to be released, the reason for the disclosure, the party to whom the record is being released, the date of the request, and the student’s signature.

However, there are circumstances where information from a student’s record may be released without the student’s consent. Some of these exceptions include:

  • to College officials, or those working on behalf of the college, with legitimate educational interest
  • to comply with a subpoena or judicial order
  • a health or safety emergency
  • to officials at an institution in which the student seeks or intends to enroll or is currently enrolled

College officials are Carleton employees, or those third parties contracted by the College, whose role is connected to a student’s education, providing services or benefits relating to the student’s education or their residence at the College, or other tasks related to the functions of the College. In order for those College officials to access student information, they must be able to demonstrate legitimate educational interest or, in other words, that they need the information in order to appropriately carry out the duties of their job at the College.

As mentioned previously, you do not need to consent to the release of your directory information. If you wish to prevent the release of all your directory information, including for enrollment or athletic verification, you may suppress your directory information by working with the Dean of Students Office. While this will prevent your information from being released in most cases, faculty and staff who need to see your information to do their jobs will continue to be able to access your educational records and directory information.