Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)





What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records. FERPA governs the release of these records (known as education records) maintained by an educational institution and access to these records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student.

What constitutes an education record?
An education record is any record that contains information directly related to a student that is maintained by the institution. This includes, but is not limited to, grade information, disciplinary documentation, billing, financial aid data, and medical records.

What are the rights of students?


1.   The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days after the day in which Northwestern State University receives a request for access.  A student should submit to the University Registrar or other appropriate official a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.  The school official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.  If the records are not maintained by the school official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.


2.   The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write the school official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.

If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the school will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing re­garding the request for amendment.  Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

3.   The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without con­sent. The school discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. 

Northwestern State University defines School Officials as “those who have a legitimate educational interest. School officials are those employees of the University (trustee, officer, agent, auditor, students serving on university committees, staff members of the Boards of Regents and Supervisors, contractors, volunteers, and other non-employees performing institutional services and functions) who act in the student’s educational interest within the limitations of their need to know.” Legitimate educational interest means “any authorized interest or activity undertaken in the name of the University for which access to an Education Record is necessary or appropriate to the proper performance of the undertaking. This includes faculty, administrators, classified and unclassified employees, legal counsel, auditors, undergraduate student workers, and graduate assistants charged with maintaining Education Records and acting within the course and scope of their employment and authority.”

4.   The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.  The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20202-4605

Under what circumstances may an institution disclose information from education records without consent?
There are several exceptions to FERPA's general prior consent rule that are set forth in the statute and the regulations. See § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. One exception is the disclosure of "directory information" as set forth in FERPA guidelines (34 CFR § 99.31 [a] [11]).

What is Directory Information?
FERPA defines "directory information" as information contained in the education records of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Northwestern State University defines directory information as the following: student's name; mailing address; campus e-mail address; photograph; telephone number; dates of attendance; enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time, or part-time); major field of study; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors and awards received, including naming to honor rolls; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended.

How do students notify the university that they would like their directory information handled as confidential information?
Students may choose to have their directory information marked confidential at any time by printing the form, completing, signing, dating, and mailing or faxing the form to the University Registrar's Office.  Form:  "Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information"

What do students do if they would like one or more of their parent(s) or guardian(s) to have access to the information contained in their education record?
Students can print the
STUDENT INFORMATION RELEASE AUTHORIZATION form, complete, sign, date, and mail or fax the form to the University Registrar's Office.

Can the consent form be submitted online?
No.  Students can print the STUDENT INFORMATION RELEASE AUTHORIZATION form, complete, sign, date, and mail or fax the form to the University Registrar's Office.

How long will the consent be in effect?
Consent will remain in effect until a student submits a notification in writing revoking their consent.

How do students revoke their consent to release information?
Students can print the STUDENT INFORMATION RELEASE AUTHORIZATION  form, complete, (including the revocation section), sign, date, and mail or fax the form to the University Registrar's Office.

Where can I get more information regarding FERPA?
The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C § 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at 34 CFR Part 99. Additional FERPA information is available at the following web sites:




Record Type



Academic Records

           University Registrar's Office              Student Services Center, Suite 308       Natchitoches, LA 71497

University Registrar

Financial Records

Financial Aid Office

Student Services Center, Suite 212

Natchitoches, LA  71497

Director of Financial Aid

Disciplinary Records

Student Services

309 Friedman Student Union

Natchitoches, LA  71497

Dean of Students

Health Records

Health Services

111 Infirmary

Natchitoches, LA  71497

Director of Health Services

Student Account Records

Student Accounting

Student Services Center, Suite 336

Natchitoches, LA  71497

Bursar of Business Affairs

Student Personnel Records

Provost & VP 

211 Caspari Hall

Natchitoches, LA  71497

Interim Provost & VP for Academic Affairs