The Catholic University of America

FERPA stands for the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This law protects the privacy of student education records from kindergarten through graduate school. FERPA applies to all schools that receive funds through an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education, and thus most postsecondary schools are covered by FERPA.


FERPA requires that education records be kept confidential. Records may be disclosed with the consent of the student, if the disclosure meets one of the statutory exemptions, or if the disclosure is directory information and the student has not placed a hold on release of directory information. If the University receives a subpoena requesting student information, the Office of General Counsel will review the subpoena for validity. If valid, the University must send the requested data. However, the Univeristy will not furnish the information until it makes a reasonable effort to notify the student and give them an opportunity to quash the subpoena. Some subpoenas (such as federal grand jury subpoenas) do not allow the student this opportunity and must be kept confidential. See Guidelines to Responding to Compulsory Legal Requests for Information: By Steven McDonald and Andrea Nixon. This chart includes information on responding to subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, National Security Letters, and Public Records Requests.


Students have a right of access to their records (but not necessarily the right to a copy of the record) and a right to request the correction of records that are inaccurate or misleading. If the school denies this request for correction of a record, the student may request a hearing.


Institutions must give students annual notice of their rights under this law, and most institutions accomplish this by having a place a student record policy.


The statute defines the phrase "education record" broadly as "those records, files documents, and other materials which 1) contain information directly related to a student; and 2) are maintained by an educational institution.


Digital records are covered by FERPA.


The CUA student record policy spells out the numerous qualifications and exceptions that are contained in the law.

updated mlo 1-24-14