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Privacy of Student Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records. The purpose of this act is to afford certain rights to students concerning their education records. The primary rights afforded are:

As college employees, it is the responsibility of all faculty and staff to understand and abide by the rules governing access to and privacy of student records. Before accessing student records, carefully review the material presented on this site. Maintaining confidentiality of student records can be achieved by knowing a few basic requirements of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The official Smith College policy concerning access to and privacy of student records is published annually online in the student handbook.

FERPA Tutorial

Click here for a tutorial on FERPA rules & regulations.

Who has FERPA protections?

At colleges and universities, FERPA rights are afforded to the student. There is no age requirement, and FERPA rights begin once a student is enrolled and continue for the life of the student. Rights are not afforded to parents of students; however, parents who claim a student as a dependent may have access to education records unless the student specifically prohibits it.

It is the policy of the college to notify a student and her parents in writing of probationary status, dismissal and certain academic warnings. In communications with parents concerning other matters, it is college policy not to disclose information from student education records without the prior consent of the student. At the request of the student, such information will be provided to parents and guardians.

Educational Records

What are edcuation records?

With certain exceptions, an education record is any record:

A student has the right of access to these records.

Education records include any records in whatever medium (handwritten, print, film, computer media, email, etc.) that are in the possession of any school official. The same principles that apply to paper records also apply to electronic data.

Educational records are not:

Who May Have Access to Education Records?

The college may only release education records if the student has given permision, except under the following circumstances:


Contact us or the dean of the college.