Key FERPA Concepts

Directory Information

Directory information is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. For a complete list of Directory information go to Directory information cannot include student identification numbers, social security numbers, ethnicity, race, nationality, or gender.



To permit access to, release, transfer or allow any other type of communication of personally identifiable information contained in education records to any party by any means; including oral, written or electronic communication.


Education Records

All records which contain information directly related to a student; and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. This term has a very broad scope. Any information which makes a student personally identifiable, such as an ID number or home address, is considered an educational record. Records which fall outside of this definition include:

  • Sole possession records
  • Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose
  • Employment records (unless contingent upon attendance)
  • Medical records made and maintained in connection with treatment and disclosed only to individuals providing treatment
  • Records containing information about an individual which is created after he/she is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records)

Educational Agency

An entity that administers a school or schools to which it is directly linked


Educational Institutions

A school or other entity that provides educational services and is attended by students


Eligible Student

A student who has attained the age of 18 or has attended an institution of higher education


Personally Identifiable Information

Includes, but is not limited to:

  • Student’s name
  • Name of the student’s parent or other family members
  • Address of the student or student’s family
  • A personal identifier, such as a social security number or student number
  • A list of personal characteristics or other information that would make student’s identity easily traceable



Information maintained in any way, including, but not limited to:

  • Audio Tape
  • Computer Media
  • Film
  • Handwriting
  • Microfilm
  • Microfiche
  • Print
  • Video Tape


Sole Possession Record

Records which are created and maintained by the person generating educational records (not in conjunction with the student). These are essentially personal notes or “memory joggers.”


School Official

Defined from institution to institution in its annual notification, a school official may be:

  • an employee of a college (administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff)
  • a person elected to the board of trustees
  • a company or person employed/contracted by a college to perform a special task (i.e., attorney, auditor, or collection agency)
  • a person or student serving on an official committee (i.e., disciplinary/grievance, scholarship) or assisting an official in his/her tasks (i.e., work study students)



Any individual who is or has been in attendance at an institution and regarding whom the institution maintains educational records The information on this page was derived from the AACRAO Web site.