FERPA Definitions

Important terms:

Refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy act of 1974, as Amended , enacted as Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g)

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

Includes but is not limited to (a) attendance in person or by correspondence and (b) the period during which a person is working under a work-study (cooperative) program.

Dates of Attendance:
The period of time during which a student attends or attended an institution. Examples of dates of attendance include an academic year and/or a semester. The term does not include specific daily records or a student's attendance pattern at the institution.

Directory Information:
Information contained in an education record of a student that generally would not be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to, the student's name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards received, and most recent education agency or institution attended. (At MiraCosta College directory information includes student's name; e-mail address; address of student; phone number of student; date and place of birth; year of graduate; weight and height (applicable to members of athletic teams only); previous educational institutions attended; enrollment status (full-time, half-time); photograph; major field of study; dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; degrees, honors, and awards received.)

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

Education Institution (or Agency):
Generally means (1) any public or private agency or institution (including governing boards which provide administrative control or direction of a university system) of post-secondary education that (2) receives funds from any federal program under the administrative responsibility of the Secretary of Education. The term refers to the institution as a whole, including all of its components (e.g., schools or departments in a university).

Education Records:
Those records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution.

The term "education records" does not include the following:

"Eligible Student":
Means a student who has reached 18 years of age or is attending an institution of post-secondary education.

Enrolled Student:
The Family Policy Compliance Office has stated that each institution may determine when a student is "in attendance" in accordance with its own enrollment procedures (Federal Register, July 6, 2000, p.41856).

Family Policy Compliance Office:
The office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for enforcing/administering the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended. This office has responsibility for FERPA at all levels of education (K-12, post-secondary).

"Final Results" of a Disciplinary Proceeding:
A decision or determination, made by an honor court or council, committee, commission, or other entity authorized to resolve disciplinary matters within the institution. The identify of final results must include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution against the student.

"In Attendance"
When is a student "in attendance"? See "enrolled student."

Institution of Postsecondary Education:
An institution that provides education to students beyond the secondary school level. "Secondary school level" means the educational level (not beyond grade 12) at which secondary education is provided.

Law Enforcement Unit:
Any individual or other component of an institution, including commissioned police officers and noncommissioned security guards, officially authorized by the institution to enforce any local, state, or federal law and to maintain the physical security and safety of the institution. (Although the unit may perform other non-law enforcement functions, it does not lose its status as a law enforcement unit.)

Law Enforcement Unit Records:
Those records, files, documents, and other materials that are (1) created by a law enforcement unit, (2) created for a law enforcement purpose, and (3) maintained by the law enforcement unit. Law enforcement records do not include: (1) records created by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose other than for the law enforcement unit; (2) records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit exclusively for non-law enforcement purposes, such as a disciplinary action or proceeding conducted by the institution.

Legitimate Educational Interest:
Although the Act does not define "legitimate educational interest", it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining when their school officials have a legitimate educational interest in a student's education records. At MiraCosta College, a school official has a "legitimate educational interest" if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.

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

Personally Identifiable:
Data or information which includes, but is not limited to, (1) the name of the student, the student's parent, or other family members; (2) the address of the student or the student's family; (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.

Any information or data recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, audio or video tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, or any other form of electronic data storage.

School Officials:
Those members of an institution who act in the student's educational interest within the limitations of their "need to know." Although the Act does not define "school officials," it states that institutions must establish their own criteria, according to their own procedures and requirements, for determining them. At MiraCosta College, a "school official" is any person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit, health staff, and student workers); a person of a company with whom MiraCosta College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, researcher, software consultant, a company which provides student helpdesk assistance, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; a person assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.

Sole Possession Records:
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.

Any individual who is or has been in attendance at an educational agency or institution for whom the agency or 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.

Student Right-to-Know Act of 1990:
Referred to in this publication as SRTK, the act requires colleges and universities to report graduation rates to current and prospective students.

A command from a court to require the person named in the subpoena to appear at a stated time and place to provide testimony or evidence. There are two main types of subpoenas: "duces tecum" (requires the production of documents, papers, or other tangibles) and "ad testificandum" (requires person to testify in a particular court case).

United States Code. A compilation of all federal legislation organized into 50 titles. Revised every six years with supplementary volumes issued in intervening years. The legislation related to FERPA is found in 20 U.S.C. 1232g.