What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) became a federal law in 1971 in order to afford students certain rights of confidentiality with respect to their educational record. All educational institutions are required to abide by FERPA regulations.

What are the Main Principles of FERPA?

The main components of FERPA include:

  • A student’s educational record is to be kept confidential
  • Only those College officials with “legitimate educational interest” may have access to a student’s educational record
  • The College can only release general “directory information” about the student, and
  • A student must sign a written waiver to release parts of his/her educational record to others, including their parents.

What is “legitimate educational interest?”

A school official has a legitimate educational interest if he/she needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibility. This includes such purposes as:

  • Performing appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description or by a contract agreement
  • Performing a task related to a student’s education
  • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student
  • Providing services for the student or the student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, student employment, athletics, leadership activities, or financial aid.

What is Directory Information?

The following is considered “Directory Information” by the Connecticut Community College Board of Regents (Board Policy 5.7):

  • Student names, addresses, dates of attendance (semesters), student status (full- or part-time) awards, honors, and graduation date.
  • For the purpose of access by military recruiters only, telephone listings are also designated as directory information and, if known, the student’s age, level of education, and major.

What is a FERPA Waiver (Release Form)?

When a student begins attending Gateway, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. The student must voluntarily sign a consent form that authorizes another person, whether parent, friend, or advisor, to receive confidential educational information and/or to attend a meeting regarding the student’s educational record. A witness must observe the voluntary signing. The FERPA consent form is available in most student services offices and is kept on file in the office where the meeting was held.

For more detailed information on FERPA, please consult the GWCC Student Handbook.