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Office of Information Technology

FERPA Overview

Modern students are concerned about the privacy of their personal information, and Florida Tech shares this priority.  Florida Tech faculty and staff must protect student data and strengthen the trust of our students.

Federal law supports students' needs to manage the privacy of their academic records.  The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA, mandates the privacy of information. 

Essentially, this law protects the privacy of student educational records and affords students the right to refuse to permit educational institutions from disclosing information about them. The purpose of FERPA is to identify the rights students have pertaining to their educational records.

These primary rights afforded to students include the right to:

  • Inspect and review their educational records
  • Seek to have their records amended
  • Control the disclosure of information from their records

FERPA applies to all students, regardless of age or status. 

What is a Student Record?

A student record is one that:

  • is maintained by the university or parties acting on its behalf
  • contains information directly related to a student
  • can be maintained in multiple formats and media

While the entire FERPA law can become quite dense and confusing to readers, the rules are quite clear. The following student information should not be released to anyone, unless they are listed in the exceptions list below:

  • Social Security Number
  • Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Academic Standing
  • Grades
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality

Exceptions

FERPA permits university officials to access and use student records for legitimate educational purposes. Other than those identified below, no other person or organization has a right to review a student's education record without the expressed consent of the student.

University Officials, defined as:

  • A person employed by Florida Tech in any faculty or staff position
  • A temporary substitute for a faculty or staff member
  • Federal and state agencies listed in the Act
  • Organizations or entities whom Florida Tech designates by contract as conducting business or performing services on its behalf
  • Parents or legal guardians of the student provided the parent or guardian can establish the student's dependency, as defined by Internal Revenue Code

A "Legitimate Educational Purpose" is defined as a University Official's need to know in order to perform:

  • An administrative task specified in the official's position description
  • A supervisory or instructional task directly related to a student's education
  • A service or benefit for the student such as health care, counseling, student financial aid or student job placement, etc.

Consequences of Violation

Violating FERPA is a serious offense. If a FERPA violation is found, the consequences could include suspension of access for the violator all the way up to loss of federal funding to the institution.

In light of these consequences, access to student records must be used responsibly. As a rule of thumb... "If in doubt, don't give it out!"

For more details, please see the Annual Notification of Student Rights (FERPA)