FERPA and Solomon Amendment

Family Education Rights & Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, helps protect the privacy of student records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal funding, and it provides:

  • The right to see the information that the institution is keeping on the student.
  • The right to seek amendment to those records and in certain cases append a statement to the record.
  • The right to consent to disclosure of his/her records.
  • The right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington.

Who is protected under FERPA?

Students who are currently enrolled in higher education institutions or formerly enrolled regardless of their age or status in regard to parental dependency.

Parents of students termed “dependent” for income tax purposes may have access to the student’s educational records. Deceased students have rights under FERPA as long as they were formerly enrolled. Students who have applied but have not attended an institution do not.

With certain exceptions, a student has rights of access to those records which are directly related to him/her and which are maintained by an educational institution or party authorized to keep records for the institution. “Educational Records” include any records in the possession of an employee which are shared with or accessible to another individual.

FERPA contains no requirement that certain records be kept at all. This is a matter of institutional policy and/or state regulation. The records may be handwritten or in the form of print, magnetic tape, film or some other medium. FERPA coverage includes records, files, documents and data directly related to students. This would include transcripts or other records obtained from a school in which the student was previously enrolled.

What is a Student Educational Record?

Just about any information provided by a student to the university for use in the educational process is considered a student educational record. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Personal information
  • Enrollment records
  • Grades
  • Schedules

The storage media in which you find this information does not matter. A student educational record may be:

  • A document in the registrar’s office
  • A computer printout in your office
  • A class list on your desktop
  • A computer display screen
  • Notes you have taken during an advisement session

Frequently Asked Questions

What is not included in an educational record?
  • sole possession records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel
  • law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for law enforcement purposes
  • records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution(unless contingent upon attendance)
  • records relating to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional or paraprofessional and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment
  • records of an institution which contain only information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records)
What documents can be removed from an educational record before the student views the record?
  • any information that pertains to another student
  • financial records of the student’s parents
  • some confidential letters and statements of recommendation under conditions described in FERPA section 99.12
What is directory information?
Institutions may disclose information on a student without violating FERPA through what is known as “directory information”. This generally includes a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized sports & activities, weight and heights of athletes, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received and other similar information.
Each institution is required annually to identify what constitutes directory information within policy. This notice must also provide procedures for students to restrict the institution from releasing his/her directory information.
Who is entitled to student information?
  • the student and any outside party who has the student’s written consent.
  • school officials who have “legitimate educational interests” as defined in FERPA
  • parents of a dependent student as defined by the IRS
  • a judicial order or subpoena which allows the institution to release records without the student’s consent, however, a “reasonable effort” must be made to notify the student before complying with the order.
When do you need consent to disclose personally identifiable information from an educational record (including transcripts)?
Except for specific exceptions, a signed and dated consent by the student must be obtained before any disclosure is made.

The written consent must:

  • specify the records that may be disclosed
  • state the purpose of disclosure
  • identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made

What is “personally identifiable information”?

  • the student’s name
  • name of the student’s parent or other family members
  • address of the student or student’s
  • a personal identifier, such as social security number or student number
  • a list of personal characteristics
When is the student's consent not required to disclose information?
The 13 exceptions are:

  • to school officials (defined in policy)
  • to schools in which a student seeks to enroll
  • to Federal, State and local authorities involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs
  • in connection with Financial Aid
  • to State and local authorities pursuant to a State law adopted before Nov. 1974 requiring the disclosure
  • to organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions
  • to accrediting organizations
  • to parents of a dependent student
  • to comply with judicial order or subpoena
  • health or safety emergency
  • directory information
  • to the student
  • results of disciplinary hearing to an alleged victim of a crime of violence

Requests to disclose should always be handled with caution and approached on a case-by-case basis.

How does increasing technology impact FERPA on our campuses?
The use of computerized record-keeping systems is increasing at a tremendous rate. We can anticipate that electronic data will eventually replace most paper documents. Registrars should ensure that appropriate policies are established to protect the confidentiality of those records, educate faculty and administrators about the policies, and make sure that policies are enforced. The same principles of confidentiality must be applied to electronic data as apply to paper documents.
Solomon Amendment

Solomon Amendment is a federal law that allows military recruiters to access some address, biographical and academic program information on students age 17 and older.

The Department of Education has determined the Solomon Amendment supersedes most elements of FERPA. An institution is therefore obligated to release data included in the list of “student recruiting infor­mation,” which may or may not match AU’s FERPA directory information list. However, if the student has submitted a to the University Registrar Office to restrict the release of his/her Directory Information (see information above), then no information from the student’s education record will be released under the Solomon Amendment.

Definition – “Student Recruitment Information” or “Solomon Information”

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Telephone
  4. Age (is not defined as Directory information at AU)
  5. Place of birth (is not defined as Directory information at AU)
  6. Classification
  7. Academic major
  8. Degree
  9. Educational institution in which the student was most recently enrolled

Procedure for releasing information to military recruiter:

  1. Under the Solomon amendment, information will be released for military recruitment purposes only. The military recruiters may request student recruitment information once each term or semester for each of the 12 eligible units within the five branches of the service:
    1. Army: Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard
    2. Navy: Navy, Navy Reserve
    3. Marine Corps: Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve
    4. Air Force: Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air Force National Guard
    5. Coast Guard: Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve
  2. The request should be submitted in writing on letterhead clearly identifying the unit of service requesting the student recruitment information.

The request should specify whether the information needed is for the current or previous semester.

Annual Notice to Students

Annually, Anderson University informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. This Act, with which the institution intends to comply fully, was designated to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of the students to inspect and review their education records and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with The Family Rights and Compliance Office (FERPA) concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the Act.

Local policy explains in detail the procedures to be used by the institution for compliance with the provisions of the Act. Copies of the policy may be found in the following offices: Registrar’s Office, Department of Student Life, and the School of Theology.

The offices mentioned also maintain a Directory of Records which lists all education records maintained on students by this institution.

Questions concerning this document may be referred to the University Registrar.

These guidelines are not intended to be legal advice.