FERPA Glossary of Terms

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, also known as the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student's educational record. FERPA applies to all educational institutions receiving funds from the United States Department of Education, from kindergarten through university level.

FERPA requires universities to provide annual notification of their institutional policy regarding the privacy of educational records. Students have the right:

  • To inspect and review their education records
  • To seek amendment to their education records
  • To consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their student records (unless an exception outlined in the law applies)
  • To file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office if they feel their FERPA rights have been violated

In addition, the university must include the procedures for inspection of records, the procedure for amending records, the criteria for defining a school official, and determining what constitutes a legitimate educational interest. Each year UF notifies students of its FERPA policy in the graduate and undergraduate catalogs.

Any record in any medium that is maintained by the University of Florida or by a party acting on behalf of the university that is directly related to an applicant for admissions to the university or who has not been in attendance at the university.

Attendance shall commence upon formal enrollment for college-credit courses approved and scheduled by the university. (UF4.007(2)).

The practice of controlling the use and disclosure of educational record information so that only school officials and persons specifically authorized by law and/or the student have access to such information.

Generally refers to a student who receives more than half of his/her support from the taxpayer. For a specific definition, refer to the Internal Revenue Code Section 152.

Directory information is the information available about a student that is not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. While FERPA and state law protect the privacy of educational records, directory information is not treated as confidential and may be disclosed by the university without student consent unless the student requests a privacy hold (see definition below). For a list of what directory information is confidential, please visit our directory information page.

To permit access to, release of, transfer of, or to communicate personally identifiable information contained in educational records to any party except the party that provided or created the record by any means, including oral, written or electronic.

Any records that are maintained by an educational institution and directly relate to a student, not including sole possession, law enforcement, employment or medical records, or records created after a student has left the university.

Directly related: The record expressly identifies the student by name, number or some other direct identifier, or the student's identity could be deduced from the information in the record, either alone or in combination with other publicly available information.

Maintained: Recorded and retained in any medium for use by university personnel for official university business or for carrying out the university's mission.

The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing/administering FERPA at all levels of education. Location: 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202; (phone) 1-800-872-5327.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. A federal law designed to protect the privacy of student records and to allow students access to their own educational records. Also known as the Buckley Amendment. The privacy of student records also is governed by state law, in Section 1002.22 of the Florida Statutes.

Legitimate educational interest means a university official has a need to access student education records for the purpose of performing an appropriate educational, research or administrative function for the university.

Information that generally cannot be released without the student's consent. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Birth date
  • Citizenship
  • Disciplinary status
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Grades/exam scores
  • GPA (grade point average)
  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Standardized test scores
  • Student photographs or videos
  • UFID or social security number

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

To be completed by the parent of a dependent student in order to access the student's education record. The form must be accompanied by a copy of the first and last page of the most recent IRS tax return or a FERPA waiver signed by the student. If the parent submits an IRS tax return, the first page must list the student as a dependent and the last page must be signed and dated.

Any information, directory and nondirectory, that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty. This may include the student's name, names of parents or family members, the address of the student or student's family; a personal identifier such as the student's social security, UFID number, or biometric record, information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates, a list of personal characteristics, or any other information that clearly distinguishes the student's identity.

An institution that provides education to students beyond high school.

A written document that provides an individual the legal authority to act for another.

A code on a student's academic record that prohibits the university from releasing directory information to anyone other than the student, except to school officials with a legitimate educational interest, and in other situations where consent is not required by law, such as in an emergency or in response to a lawful subpoena.

Completed by a student who wishes to review and/or amend his or her academic record. Available at the Registrar Information Counter in 222 Criser Hall.

Completed by a student who wishes to place a privacy hold. (See privacy hold above.)

An agent of the university or the State University System of Florida in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position; members of university committees,boards and/or councils; and persons under contract with the university to perform a special task, such as an attorney or auditor.

Records kept in sole possession of the maker are used only as a personal memory aid and are not accessible or revealed to any other person. Not considered education records.

Any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution and regarding whom the agency or institution maintains education records.

A command issued from a court requiring the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony and/or documents. There are two main types of subpoenas - those that require an individual to produce documents or papers and those that require an individual to testify in court. When the university intends to release documents in response to a subpoena, the university will send written notice to the student and will wait a specified time before releasing any information.

Statements of general applicability to guide the conduct or action of constituents or the public, adopted by the university boards of trustees that implement its powers and duties. Regulations must be consistent with law and the resolutions, and strategic plan of the Board of Governors. The University of Florida regulations.