Generally, written permission must be obtained from a student before releasing personally identifiable information from education records. Students can provide written permission by submitting the Authorization to Release Confidential Information form. Or, if they wish to restrict the release of information they can complete the Restriction of the Release of Directory Information form.
However, there are a number of exceptions to FERPA’s prohibition against non-consensual disclosure. One exception is of information designated as directory information. Other exceptions are provided to allow for the reasonable and practical workings of an educational institution. The most common exceptions are:
- To school officials who have legitimate educational interest
- To officials of another school where the student seeks to enroll
- In connection with financial aid
- To accrediting organizations
- To comply with a judicial order or subpoena
- In a health or safety emergency
- To Military recruiters with some limitations
FERPA Annual Notice to Reflect Possible Federal and State Data Collection and use as of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records — including your Social Security Number, grades, or other private information — may be accessed without your consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal or state supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution. Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities. In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.