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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as ‘FERPA’ or ‘The Buckley Amendment’ is a federal law (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) that protects student education records by governing disclosure of student records and affording students specific rights to their records, including access. FERPA affords students the right of privacy regarding their grades, enrollment, and even billing information, unless an institution has prior written permission from the student to share that specific type of information, or, in the alternative, a relevant exception applies. FERPA also gives students the right to inspect and review their education records and, under certain circumstances, the right to request that such records be amended.   

How FERPA Impacts SUNY
SUNY schools may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from an eligible student's education records to a third party without a student’s prior written permission, unless there is a specific exception to FERPA which authorizes the disclosure in the absence of student consent. FERPA also requires that campuses notify students, on an annual basis, of their rights under FERPA. SUNY Procedure 6600 details compliance with FERPA.


Applicable Laws and Regulations

SUNY Policies and Procedures

SUNY Procedure, Compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Document Number 6600
(procedure applies State-Operated campuses and Community Colleges)
The University is committed to protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information contained in education records in accordance with FERPA. Accordingly, the Procedure sets forth the ways that SUNY will ensure compliance with FERPA.

SUNY Resources

SUNY University Police Guide to FERPA, prepared by Counsel's Office, April 2013

SUNY Definitions for the Purposes of FERPA Compliance

Privacy and Safety on Campus - A Legal Framework

References to Best Practices and Other Supplemental Material

SUNY FERPA Information and Guidance

SUNY Campus Compliance Mandates Pursuant to FERPA

These compliance mandates are all outlined in the SUNY Procedure Document Number 6600, Compliance with Family Educational Rights Under FERPA.

1.  Annual Notice of FERPA Rights:

Campuses must inform students annually of their rights under (FERPA)

2.  Student Access to Records

With the exception of certain enumerated records, a student is guaranteed access to his or her education records subject only to reasonable regulation as to time, place and supervision. The records listed below are examples of documents that are not accessible under FERPA:

  1. confidential letters and recommendations placed in a student’s file prior to Jan. 1, 1975;
  2. confidential letters and recommendations placed in a student’s file after January 1, 1975, to which the student waived his or her right to inspect and review, and that are related to the student’s admission, application for employment or job placement, or receipt of honors.
  3. records to which access has been waived by the student;
  4. records which are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records;
  5. financial data and income tax forms submitted in confidence by the student’s parents in connection with an application for, or receipt of, financial aid; and
  6. records connected with an application to attend a state operated or community college campus of the University if the applicant never enrolled at such campus. FERPA rights are provided only to applicants upon actual acceptance and subsequent enrollment;

Records that contain information on more than one student: the requesting student has the right to view only those portions of the record that pertain to his or her own education records.

The placement records maintained by campus offices of career development may be inspected by the subject of the file, with the exception of recommendations or evaluations, which have been received with the student’s written waiver of access.

Student inspection of records is granted only upon written request, presented in person with appropriate identification, and must be made in the presence of designated personnel of the office maintaining the records. All requests shall be granted as soon as practicable, but in no event later than 45 days after the date of request. No documents or files may be altered or removed once a request has been filed.

A student may receive a copy of any and all records to which he or she has lawful access, upon payment of the copying fee set by the campus, except when a hold has been placed on his or her record pending the payment of debts owed the University, or when the student requests a copy of a transcript, the original of which is held elsewhere. The campus may not charge a “search and retrieval” fee. Copying fees may not exceed $.25 per page.

3.  Challenge Hearings
4.  Career Development Offices
5.  Release of Records

The University will disclose information from a student’s education records only with the written consent of the student, except that records may be disclosed without consent when the disclosure is to one of the following categories of requestors, subject to the condition that the requestor not re-disclose personally identifiable information without student consent or otherwise in compliance with FERPA. 

Releasing Information to the Military:

6.  Recordkeeping Requirements

Each campus of the University will maintain a record of requests for and/or disclosures of information from a student’s education records. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request and what records, if any, were received, the legitimate interest in the records, any additional party to whom it may be disclosed, and the legitimate interest the additional party had in requesting or obtaining the information. The record may be reviewed by the student.

Recordkeeping is not required if the request was from, or the disclosure was to:

  1. the student;
  2. a school official determined to have a legitimate educational interest;
  3. a party with written consent from the student;
  4. a party seeking directory information; or
  5. a federal grand jury or law enforcement agency pursuant to a subpoena that by its terms requires nondisclosure.


SUNY FERPA Definitions

The SUNY Procedure, Compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Document Number 6600 defines the following terms as follows:

    1. Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
    2. Records of the law enforcement unit of an educational agency or institution, subject to the provisions of Sec. 99.8.
    3. Records relating to:
      1. Records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational agency or institution, that:
        1. Are made and maintained in the normal course of business;
        2. Relate exclusively to the individual in that individual's capacity as an employee; and
        3. Are not available for use for any other purpose.
      2. Records relating to an individual in attendance at the agency or institution who is employed as a result of his or her status as a student are education records and not excepted under paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this definition.
    4. Records on a student who is 18 years of age or older, or is attending an institution of postsecondary education, which are:
      1. Made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his or her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity;
      2. Made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student; and
      3. Disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment. For the purpose of this definition, "treatment" does not include remedial educational activities or activities that are part of the program of instruction at the agency or institution; and
    5. Records created or received by the University about an individual after he or she is no longer a student in attendance at that campus and that are not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student.
    6. Peer-graded papers before collection and recording by the course instructor.

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The information contained on the SUNY Compliance website is for general campus guidance only and is not intended, nor can be relied upon, as legal advice or the imposition on SUNY campuses of specific policies or requirements. The site is intended to be an informational-only clearinghouse for some of the laws, rules, and regulations that may impact the State University of New York’s campuses. Additionally, given the rapid, changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be delays or omissions contained on this site which therefore cannot be relied upon as complete. For complete compliance information, consult your campus compliance officials. For legal advice, consult your lawyer.