FERPA Definitions

Authorized disclosures without the student's prior written consent may include but are not limited to information necessary to the health or safety of the student or other individuals if the University determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, internal disclosures for a legitimate educational reason, information returned to the author/sender of the information, to parents of a student regarding the student's violation of any federal, state, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the University determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21, information forwarded to schools where the student plans to enroll or transfer. Mid-Atlantic Christian University does not routinely disclose information without the student's consent to parents of federal tax dependents. State and Local Education Authorities may allow access to your records to third parties with written agreement in conjunction with the evaluation of federal or state supported education programs; including early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education.

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

Education records - Records that are directly related to a student; are maintained, in whatever format or medium, by an educational institution or by a party acting for the institution; and contain information that is personally identifiable to a student.  Education records are divided into two classes: directory information and non-directory information.

Education records do NOT pertain to:

  • Records in the sole possession of the maker (e.g. private advising notes).
  • Law enforcement records created and maintained by the public safety office for law enforcement or public safety purposes.
  • Employment records except where contingent upon, e.g., work-study and wages.
  • Medical/psychological treatment records from a health or counseling center.
  • Alumni records which are created after the student graduates or leaves the University.

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.  A school may disclose "directory information" to third parties without consent if it has given public notice of the types of information which it has designated as "directory information," the parent's or eligible student's right to restrict the disclosure of such information, and the period of time within which a parent or eligible student has to notify the school in writing that he or she does not want any or all of those types of information designated as "directory information." The means of notification could include publication in various sources, including a newsletter, in a local newspaper, or in the student handbook. The school could also include the "directory information" notification as part of the general notification of rights under FERPA. The school does not have to notify a parent or eligible student individually. (34 CFR § 99.37.)

The University has designated the follow items as directory information:

  • student name
  • student address(es) (including phone/email)
  • previous institutions attended
  • dates of attendance, including date of graduation
  • honors or awards received
  • major field(s) of study
  • participation in recognized activities and sports
  • degree(s) conferred
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams


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

Legitimate educational interest is the need to review an education record in order for a University official to carry out his or her responsibilities in regard to performing an administrative task outlined in the official's duties, or performing a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student's education.

  • performing appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her job 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, or financial aid

Legitimate educational interest does not convey inherent rights to access any and all student information. The law distinguishes between educational interest, and personal or private interest; educational records are not to be accessed or used for personal reasons. Educational interest does not constitute authority to disclose information to a third party without the student's written permission.

Non-disclosure of directory information may be requested by currently enrolled students. Non-disclosure means the University may not release any directory information about the student, except as permitted under the provisions of FERPA. The University may not even acknowledge to third parties that the person is a student.

Non-directory information information that is part of a student's education record the University cannot release without prior written consent by the student.  Some examples of non-directory information include:

  • birth date
  • religious affiliation
  • citizenship
  • disciplinary status
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • grade point average (GPA)
  • marital status
  • SSN/student I.D.
  • grades/exam scores
  • test scores (e.g., SAT, GRE, etc.)
  • progress reports
  • documents with a student’s name and ID number or grades
  • class rosters
  • grade lists
  • student employment records
  • student disciplinary records
  • class attendance
  • transcripts


Parent A parent of a student and includes a natural parent (custodial and/or non-custodial), a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.

Personally identifiable information 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.

Sole Possesion Records Records made by faculty and staff for their own use as reference or memory aids and not shared with others.  Sole possesion records are not classified as education records.

Student Any individual for whom an education institution maintains education records. The term does not include an individual who has never attended the institution. An individual who is or has been enrolled in one component unit of an institution and who applies for admission to a second unit has no right to inspect the records accumulated by the second unit until enrolled therein.

University official is any person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support position; a person elected to the Board of Trustees; a student or a University graduate serving on an official University committee or assisting another University official in performing his or her tasks; or a person employed by or under contract to, or serving as the agent of, the University to perform a specific task.

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 FERPA 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.)