FERPA Compliance

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) (FERPA) is a federal law regarding the privacy of student education records and the related requirements of educational institutions, primarily in the areas of education record access and information release.

Educational institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education must adhere to FERPA regulations. As a recipient of federal funding, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and all schools operating within JHU are obligated to comply with FERPA.


Education Records

As defined by FERPA, education records are records that (1) are directly related to a student who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution; and (2) are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the educational agency or institution. This encompasses information or data recorded in any medium, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, and microfiche.

Examples of education records include transcripts; class schedules; course work including papers, exams, grades, and evaluations; disciplinary records; internship program records; and student financial records. Records relating to an individual in attendance who is employed as a result of their status as a student are also considered education records under the terms of FERPA.

Education records are not:

  • 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;
  • records of the law enforcement unit of an educational agency or institution;
  • records relating to an individual who is employed by an educational agency or institution that are made and maintained in the normal course of business, relate exclusively to the individual in that individual’s capacity as an employee, and are not available for use for any other purpose;
  • records made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in their professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity that are made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student and disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment (although the student may have those records reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice);
  • records created or received by an educational agency or institution after an individual is no longer a student in attendance and that are not directly related to the individual’s attendance as a student; and
  • grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by an instructor.

Student Rights Under FERPA

FERPA grants eligible students the following rights:

  • the right to inspect and review their education records;
  • the right to request amendment of education records that they believe to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights;
  • the right to consent to disclosures of personally-identifiable information contained in their education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent; and
  • the right to file complaints with the Department of Education concerning alleged failures by an educational agency or institution to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Under the terms of FERPA, “eligible students” are those who have reached 18 years of age or are attending an institution of postsecondary education; and “attendance” includes, but is not limited to, attendance in person or by paper correspondence, videoconference, satellite, Internet, or other electronic information and telecommunications technologies for students who are not physically present in the classroom; and the period during which a person is working under a work-study program.

Inspect and Review

Overview

In compliance with FERPA, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) permits students to inspect and review their education records to the extent permitted by applicable law and regulations, with the following exceptions:

  • Persons will not be permitted to inspect and review their education records maintained by a school or division in which they have not been in attendance.
  • If the education records of a student contain information on more than one student, the student may inspect and review or be informed of only the specific information about that student.
  • Students will not be permitted to inspect financial records or statements of parents.
  • Students will not be permitted to inspect confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records of the student prior to January 1, 1975, provided that they were solicited with a written assurance of confidentiality or sent and retained with a documented understanding of confidentiality; and were used only for the purposes for which they were specifically intended.
  • Students will not be permitted to inspect confidential letters and statements of recommendation which were placed in the education records of the student after January 1, 1975, respecting admission to an educational institution; respecting an application for employment; or respecting the receipt of an honor or honorary recognition, provided that the student has waived the right to inspect and review those letters and statements of recommendation.
  • JHU will not disclose documents which do not come within the statutory and regulatory definition of the term “education records.”

Procedures: Inspecting and Reviewing Education Records

Students wishing to inspect and review their education records must submit a Request to Inspect and Review Education Records form.

JHU will comply with requests for access to records in a timely manner and no later than 45 days from the date of receipt of the official request. Copies of transcripts may be secured with payment of any applicable fee.

Request Amendment

Overview

In compliance with FERPA, JHU will provide students who believe that the information contained in their education records is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their privacy rights with an opportunity to seek correction of the records.

Procedures: Requesting Amendment of Education Records

Students seeking to amend their education records must submit a Request to Amend Education Records form, which must clearly identify the part of the record the student seeks to amend and provide a rationale for their request.

If a student’s request is denied, the student will be informed of the decision and of their right to a hearing. Students seeking a hearing must submit a Request for a Hearing Under FERPA form.

The appropriate dean/designee will hold a hearing within 14 days of the receipt of the official request. JHU will provide the student with reasonable advance notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing, which will be closed to all except the University’s representative(s), the student, the student’s representative or attorney, and witnesses. During the hearing, the student will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue of whether the information is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of their privacy rights. Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the student will be informed in writing of the dean/designee’s decision within a reasonable period of time after the hearing. The decision must be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and must include a summary of the evidence and the reasons for the decision.

If, as a result of the hearing, the dean/designee decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights, the record will be amended accordingly and the student will be informed of the amendment in writing. If the dean/designee decides that the information is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of the student, the student may place in the education record a statement commenting upon the information and/or any reason for disagreeing with the dean/designee’s decision.

Consent to Disclosures

File Complaints

Overview

Under the terms of FERPA, students have the right to file complaints concerning alleged violations of FERPA regulations with the U.S. Department of Education.

Procedures: Filing Complaints

Complaints concerning alleged violations of FERPA regulations should be addressed to the U.S. Department of Education at the following address:

U.S. Department of Education
Student Privacy Policy Office
400 Maryland Avenue, SW.
Washington, DC 20202-8520

Complaints must be made within 180 days of the alleged violation or the date that the student knew or reasonably should have known of the alleged violation, and contain specific allegations giving reasonable cause to believe that a violation occurred.

Questions?

For any questions regarding JHU’s FERPA compliance protocols, please submit a support request through the Office of Student Enrollment and Account Management (SEAM) or contact the Office of General Counsel. Additional information, forms, and frequently asked questions about FERPA are available on the Office of the University Registrar’s FERPA Resources website.