Data Privacy at Lewis-Clark State College (FERPA FAQs)

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records and is enforced by the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education (FPCO). Essentially, the act states that 1) "students" must be permitted to inspect their own “education records” and 2) “school officials” may not disclose personally identifiable information about a student without written permission from the student.

Who is considered a "student" at LCSC?

Students are defined as those individuals who are enrolled and have a final admission status. Persons who applied for admission but were not admitted, or have not enrolled after the 10th day of a term, have no rights under FERPA. However, if admitted and enrolled, all admission records are then "folded into" the education record.

What is an "Education Record"?

Education records are defined as those records directly related to a student and maintained by LCSC, or by a party acting for LCSC. These records may contain a student’s name, social security number, student ID number, address, or any other piece of information that could be considered “personally identifiable.”

“Sole possession notes” (those made by one person and kept in the possession of the maker) are not considered education records. However, sharing these notes with another person or placing them in an area where they can be viewed by others will make them education records and, therefore, subject to FERPA.

Other records that are NOT considered education records:

  • Records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency.
  • Records relating to individuals who are employed by the institution that relate exclusively to their capacity as employees.
  • Records relating to a student which are created or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist (or related professional) used solely in connection with the provisions of treatment to the student.

Who has access to student records?

Within the LCSC community, only those "school officials", individually or collectively, acting in the student's educational interest, who have a legitimate "need to know," are allowed access to student education records. College personnel are determined to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is necessary for them to:

  • Perform appropriate tasks that are specified in his/her position description, or by a contract agreement.
  • Perform a task related to a student’s education.
  • Perform a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Provide a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement or financial aid.

School officials typically include (but are not limited to):

  • LCSC faculty and staff
  • Appropriate transfer school officials
  • Authorized officials conducting audits
  • Dual credit high school officials
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid
  • Organizations conducting studies for LCSC
  • Officials with lawfully issued subpoenas
  • Officials in cases of health/safety emergencies

What is "Directory Information"?

“Directory information” is information that, if disclosed, is not normally considered a violation of a student’s privacy and, therefore, can be released without the student’s written permission. Directory information can never include a student’s race, gender, social security number, grades, GPA, country of citizenship, or religion. As an institution, LCSC must provide “annual notification” of students’ FERPA rights and the categories designated as directory information.

What information can and cannot be released at LCSC?

This information CAN be released without written consent (directory information).

  • Full Name
  • Major/Minor
  • Previous Colleges Attended
  • Academic Honors
  • Dates/Terms Enrolled
  • Degree/Certificate Awarded and Date Conferred
  • Full or Part-Time Status
  • Withdrawal Date
  • Athlete Height & Weight
  • Athletic Achievement
  • Email Address
  • College Level (Sr., Jr., So., Fr.)
  • Hometown
  • Photograph

This information CANNOT be released (written consent is required).

  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Address/Phone Number
  • Student ID Number
  • Class Schedule/Roster
  • Academic Standing
  • Grades
  • GPA (term and cumulative)
  • Transcript
  • Gender
  • Credits (term and cumulative)

What does FERPA say about grade posting?

Instructors may post grades without the written consent of the students only if the identities of the individuals are completely disguised such that no direct correlation to each student can be determined from the list. Accordingly, instructors should refrain from openly discussing grades in class or distributing graded material in such a way that the grades may be seen by other students.

How can a student withhold their directory information?

Students can submit a Directory Information Restriction Request to the Office of Admission/Registrar so that all or a portion of their directory information not be released.

What are the rights of parents under FERPA?

When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student. Parents may obtain directory information at the discretion of the institution. Parents may obtain non-directory information (grades, GPA, etc.) only at the discretion of the institution and after it has been determined that their child is legally their dependent. Parents may also obtain non-directory information by obtaining a signed consent from their child.

In an emergency, can a school official tell a student’s mother where her daughter’s next class is held?

A student’s class schedule is non-directory information. For the safety of the student, we cannot tell another person where a student is at any time.

When this situation arises, the school official should forward the inquiring person to the Office of Admission/Registrar and we will contact the student directly. However, we will not contact students for non-emergency reasons.

What is the Solomon Amendment?

Under this 1996 amendment, institutions are required to provide directory-type information on students at least 17 years of age who are registered for at least one credit, upon request from the Department of Defense for military recruiting purposes.

Can a school official include a student's GPA in a letter of recommendation?

If personably identifiable information (such as GPA, grades, etc.) obtained from a student's record is included in a letter of recommendation, the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student which 1) specifies the records to be disclosed, 2) states the purpose of the disclosure, and 3) identifies the party to whom the disclosure can be made.

Statements made by a person making a recommendation that are made from that person's personal knowledge do not require a written release from the student.

What documents are available?

Where can I get more information?

U.S. Department of Education FERPA site
U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) site
Lewis-Clark State College contact: Associate Registrar, (208) 792-2222,