FERPA Definitions


Refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy act of 1974, as Amended , enacted as Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g)


A person or business formally authorized to act on another's behalf.


Includes but is not limited to (a) attendance - in person, by correspondence study (program), or participation in online courses, and (b) the period during which a person is working under a work-study (cooperative) program.


The period of time during which a student attends or attended an institution. Examples of dates of attendance include an academic year, a spring semester, or a first quarter. The term does not include specific daily records or a student's attendance pattern at the institution.


Information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, student’s name, major field of study, enrollment status, dates of attendance, participation in recognized sports, degree or certificate earned, term degree or certificate awarded, and honors.

Effective June 30, 2021


NOTE: Items that can never be identified as directory information are a student's social security number, citizenship, gender, religious preference, grades, and GPA.


Generally means (1) any public or private agency or institution (including governing boards which provide administrative control or direction of a college system) of post-secondary education that (2) receives funds from any federal program under the administrative responsibility of the Secretary of Education. The term refers to the institution as a whole, including all of its components (e.g., departments or schools in a college or university).


Those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. The term "education records" does not include the following:


Means a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education.


For the purposes of this publication, this term refers to a student who has satisfied all of the institutional requirements for attendance at the institution. The Family Policy Compliance Office has stated that each institution may determine when a student is "in attendance" in accordance with its own enrollment procedures. At Clark College, a student is considered "enrolled" when he or she has registered and attended his or her first class either in person, by correspondence study (program), or by participating in an online course.


The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for
enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as
Amended. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education (K-12,


A decision or determination, made by an honor court or council, committee, commission, or other entity authorized to resolve disciplinary matters within the institution. The disclosure of final results must include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution against the student.


See "enrolled student.


An institution that provides education to students beyond the secondary school level. Typically in the United States, postsecondary education refers to education after grade 12 such as at the college or university level.


Any individual or other component of an institution, including commissioned police
officers and noncommissioned security guards, officially authorized by the institution to enforce any local, state, or federal law and to maintain the physical security and safety of the institution. (Although the unit may perform other non-law enforcement functions, it does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit.)


Those records, files, documents, and other materials that are (1) created by a law enforcement unit, (2) created for a law enforcement purpose, and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit. Law enforcement records do not include: (1) records created by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose other than for the law enforcement unit; (2) records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit exclusively for non-law enforcement purposes, such as a disciplinary action or proceeding conducted by the institution.


The demonstrated "need to know" by those officials of an institution who act in the student's educational interest, including faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees, and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student record information. Although the Act does not define "legitimate educational interest," it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining when their school officials have a legitimate educational interest in a student's education records.


Includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.


Data or information which include (1) the name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members; (2) the student's address; (3) a personal identifier such as a Social Security Number or student number; or (4) a list of personal characteristics or other information which would make the student's identity easily traceable.


Any information or data recorded in any medium (e.g., handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, any form of electronic data storage).


Those members of an institution who act in the student's educational interest within the limitations of their "need to know." These may include faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees and other persons, including student employees or agents, who manage student education record information. (Although the Act does not define "school officials," it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining them. This is a recommended definition.)


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. Any record that is made in conjunction with a student or other school official is not a sole possession record.


Any individual for whom an education institution maintains education records. The term does not include an individual who has never attended the institution. Students who originally sought admission to one program of study at the college and are denied, but subsequently are admitted and enrolled in a different program of study have FERPA rights only in their admitted/enrolled program of study.


Often referred to as SRTK, the act requires colleges and universities to report graduation rates to current and prospective students.


A command from a court to require the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony or evidence. There are two main types of subpoenas: "duces tecum" (requires the production of documents, papers, or other tangibles) and "ad testificandum" (requires person to testify in a particular court case).

United States Code. A compilation of all federal legislation organized into 50 titles. Revised every six years with supplementary volumes issued in intervening years. The legislation related to FERPA is found in 20 U.S.C. 1232g (see Appendix I).