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FERPA: Records, Rights and Privacy

The Office of the Registrar maintains the student academic record and provides access to such records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Biola University is committed to protecting the privacy rights of its students and maintaining the confidentiality of its records. Learn more about FERPA below.


In 1974 Congress passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act otherwise known as "FERPA" ( 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. According to the Department of Education, this law applies to educational agencies and institutions that receive funding under any program administered by the U. S. Department of Education.

The American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) define FERPA as:

"A Federal law designed to protect the privacy of educational records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings."

FERPA allows institutions to release information from a student's record without the written consent of the student to school officials who have "legitimate educational interest" and who need access to the information to fulfill their professional responsibility. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position, including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff.

You may request a copy of Biola’s FERPA Policy from the Office of the Registrar and visit the Department of Education website for more information.

How to Access Student Academic Records

What are Student Academic Records?

According to AACRAO, the definition of an educational record includes the following:

"All records which contain information directly related to a student; and are maintained by an educational agency 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."

The following records fall outside of the definition of an educational record, and therefore, do not have to be released to a student should the student request this information:

  • Sole possession records: Records which are created and maintained by the person generating education records -- not in conjunction with the student. These are essentially personal notes or "memory joggers." If any person other than the possessor has access to the record, the record then becomes an educational record under FERPA.
  • Records containing information about an individual, which is created after he/she is no longer a student at that institution (i.e., alumni records).

Student Right to Inspect Educational Records

Under FERPA students must be permitted to inspect their own educational records. In addition, institutions may not disclose information about a student's record nor permit inspection of a student's record by a third party without written permission from that student. The student's parents can have access to their student's education record without the student's signature if the parent submits proof that their student is a dependent, unless the school chooses to consider all enrolled college students as independent adults (Biola's position).

Download this form to request an appointment to view and inspect your educational records.

Request to Inspect Educational Records

Student Rights under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. 

View Notification of Student Rights and Directory Information Public Notice

1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access.

A student should submit to the appropriate office, a completed Student Request to Inspect Educational Records form that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect (this form, and all forms referenced in this document can be accessed through the Office of the Registrar website. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by that office, the student may contact the Office of the Registrar to inquire about the correct official or department to whom the request should be addressed.

2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA.

A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should submit a completed Appeals Form to the Office of the Registrar clearly identifying the part of the record the student wants changed and specifying why it should be changed. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, the University will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.

3. The right to provide written consent before the University discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. “Directory Information” however, is generally available to third parties unless otherwise requested by the student.

In general, a signed consent of release is necessary for the release of any “Non-Directory Information.” Some elements of personally identifiable information designated by the University as “Directory Information” are made available to third parties unless otherwise requested by the student. (See Directory Information Public Notice below for more information regarding “Directory” and “Non-Directory” information and your right as a student to request heightened confidentiality.)

The University discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exceptions for disclosure, such as release to school officials with a legitimate educational interest. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using University employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student or volunteer serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. 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 responsibilities for the University.

Upon request, the University also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901

Directory Information Public Notice

Under the standard protection of FERPA, a signed consent of release is necessary for the release of any "Non-Directory Information." The Transcript Request form, Enrollment Verification/Graduation Verification form, and General Student Consent of Release of Educational Record(s) form can all be submitted to the Office of the Registrar for this purpose. Certain information designated as "Directory Information" may be disclosed without the consent or knowledge of the student unless the student has notified Biola in advance that such information is not to be released (see below). "Directory Information" at Biola is defined as:

  • Photo
  • Name
  • Telephone Listing
  • E-Mail Address
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Major Field of Study
  • Participation in Officially Recognized Activities and Sports
  • Weight and Height of Members of Athletic Teams
  • Student Status (e.g. Enrolled, Withdrawn, Graduated, etc.)
  • Enrollment Time Status (e.g. Full Time, Half Time, etc.)
  • Student Classification (e.g. Freshman, Junior, Graduate First Year, etc.)
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Degrees and Awards Received
  • Most Recent Previous Educational Agency or Institution Attended

The purpose of establishing this definition of "Directory Information" is to notify the student of the types of personally identifiable information included in this definition of "Directory Information" and to allow the student to prevent the disclosure of this information should he or she wish to do so. The student may request that his/her "Directory Information" remain confidential and therefore be treated as "Non-Directory Information." To do so, the student must change his/her confidentiality level to Total Confidentiality. Students may request changes to their level of confidentiality in writing with the Office of the Registrar.

Implications of Requesting Total Confidentiality to Student Records

Students requesting Total Confidentiality should familiarize themselves with the various implications associated with this heightened, optional level of privacy. The following are some, but not all, of such implications. All students who do not request Total Confidentiality will be assigned Standard Confidentiality which entitles them to all of the regular protective provisions of FERPA as described in the Notification of Student Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) above.

Students requesting Total Confidentiality should be aware that this will prevent the acknowledgment of their enrollment and the release of any and all "Directory Information" by the University to potentially interested third parties such as parents, spouses, children, other family members, potential employers, and the like. To authorize the release of the "Directory Information" of students with Total Confidentiality, the student must complete and submit a General Student Consent of Release of Educational Record(s) form to the Office of the Registrar as described above.

Students who have requested Total Confidentiality will also be omitted from some internal University and departmental communications. Student athletes, and other students who represent the University in an official capacity should consult with the athletic team or supervising department concerning the relevant logistics of requesting and maintaining Total Confidentiality while serving as an official representative of the University. Students who have requested that their information remain confidential will not be listed on such things as honor lists (Dean's list, EKE, etc.), and they will not have their names printed on the graduation bulletin nor read at the commencement ceremony when they graduate unless a specific written request is submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

Alumni and former student educational records will be treated according to the last privacy level selected by the student prior to their graduation or withdrawal from the University.

The University is not responsible for the retraction or amendment of any and all student information legitimately released to a third party prior to the Student's request for Total Confidentiality. The requesting student is responsible to coordinate such desired retraction/amendment directly with the third party recipient and/or any other third parties the information was subsequently redisclosed to.

Request Change to Level of Confidentiality Form

Use this form to select your desired level of Confidentiality regarding your educational records:

Notification of Student Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Directory Information Public Notice

How FERPA Affects Faculty

Under FERPA, grade, grade point average, student ID number and Social Security number information may not be released without the written consent of the student. As such, the following practices are a violation of FERPA and are not allowed:

  • Posting student grades by ID number
  • Releasing grades over the phone or via e-mail without signature approval of the student
  • Leaving personally identifiable papers or test results without supervision for students to pick up
  • Releasing student Social Security numbers or student ID numbers
  • Releasing of any information on students who have requested that their information remain confidential

Helpful Tips for Faculty to Submit Grades to Students

Grades can be posted using non-sequential number or codes in non-alpha order for the students in the class; however, the numbers cannot be any part or portion of the student's ID number or Social Security number.

Although the student’s final grade is posted online, this does not work for exams and papers. Papers and exam results can only be sent to the student's mailbox in a sealed envelope.

Individual quizzes that count for only a small portion of the student’s grade can be graded and corrected by other students in the class by exchanging papers. For major exam grades or final grades, the student can be requested to leave a self-addressed envelope (no postcards) to have the grades mailed.

Sending exam grades by e-mail is less secure and not recommended by FERPA. To avoid unauthorized access, final exams and major papers not returned to the student should be shredded. They should not be thrown away nor put in a recycle bin.

If you have any questions about this please feel free to contact the Office of the Registrar.

Penalties for Violations of FERPA

Institutions which violate the FERPA can be faced with a withdrawal of Federal funding. This, however, has not occurred since the inception of the Act. Typically, complaints are fielded then corrections are made. Practically speaking, an institution is unlikely to lose funding unless multiple violations occur without any corrective action taken.

Learn more at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).