Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act History


“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” was passed in 1974. It is also well known as “the Buckley Amendment”. Buckley is the name of its proponent. It is a federal law of the United States. Privacy of student education records is protected by this law. Educational records mean the records which are directly related to the student. Written documents, Computer media, Microfilm and microfiche, Video or audio tapes or CDs, Film, photographs (all related with the student) come under the category of educational records. According to this act the institutes that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education have to provide some rights to the students about their educational privacy such as students can access their education records. Students can disclose some information from the records but institute has to take permission of the student prior to disclosing his educational record to some one other. According to this law the student who is applying for an educational institution such as graduate school can view proposals, suggestions, and recommendations submitted by the others.

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These rights are not directly given to the students. Firstly they are given to their parents. When a student crosses 18 years of age or admits in a school beyond the high school level, these rights are transferred to him and the student whom rights have been transferred is called “eligible student”. It is specified in this law that Parents or eligible students can examine and check the student’s education records which are maintained by the school. But it is not compulsory for the schools to provide copies of records. Schools have to provide copies of records, if it is impossible for parents or eligible students to view the records because of the long distance. In this condition schools may charge a fee for providing copies. If parents or eligible students find any mistake in the record, they can request to the school for a correction. If schools do not modify the record then the parent or eligible student has the right to a formal enquiry.

Generally there must be a written permission from the parent or eligible student to disclose any information from a student’s education record, but FERPA permits schools to disclose those records without any written permission under some conditions such as school administrators with valid educational interest can view a student’s record, other school to which a student is transferring can view a student’s record, specified officers can view a student’s record for audit or evaluation purposes, parties who are providing financial aid to the student can check his record, in cases of health and safety emergencies specified officers can see the record.


According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Schools may reveal some information such as a student’s name, telephone number, address, date and place of birth, awards and honors, and attendance dates. This information is called “directory” information. Parents and eligible students may request a reasonable amount of time that the school will not divulge directory information about them till that time. In this law students have right to know about the location where their educational records are kept. In December, 2008 a new law was attached in FERPA by the US Department of Education, which is applied for mental health and campus safety.

FERPA was passed by the Congress for the purpose of protecting the privacy of student educational records and it became succeed in its aim. But there are some drawbacks in each and every law. It has proved a good policy for the institutes. This act would be more effective if institutes provide information to the student about their rights under FERPA. They should out publish some articles about FERPA. If there is any doubt then institute should first inform to the student. Institute should take a written permission from the student before disclosing his educational records to other party.


Everything you’ve always wanted to know about HIPAA and FERPA (but were afraid to ask). (2007). Nuesoft Technologies, Inc. Web.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). (2008). U. S. Department of Education. Web.

The FERPA Watchdog. (2008). Web.

Van Dusen, William R., Jr. (2004). FERPA: Basic guidelines for faculty and staff a simple step-by-step approach for compliance. Web.