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Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that gives students who enter a post-secondary institution the right to have access to their education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their education records.  With limited exceptions, FERPA prohibits the release of personally identifiable information from a student's education record without the student's prior written consent.  The FERPA statute is found at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and the FERPA regulations are found at 34 CFR Part 99.

A comprehensive summary of the University's procedures on maintenance of and access to student education records in compliance with FERPA is provided in the MSU Access to Student Information guidelines here.

Contact with additional questions or concerns.




FERPA is a federal law that grants students certain rights over their education records. These rights include: 

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days after the day that Michigan State University (“the University”) receives a request for access.
    1. A student should submit to the FERPA Compliance Office a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
    1. A student who wishes to ask the University to amend a record should write to the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed and specify 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 personally identifiable information from the student’s education records is disclosed except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. 
  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning any alleged violation of the student’s rights under FERPA. More information about the complaint process can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy website.

Directory Information
Michigan State University may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” about a student without written consent, unless the student has opted to restrict their directory information. While disclosure of directory information about a student is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy under FERPA, the University is not required to disclose directory information to outside parties, including in response to requests made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

Michigan State University has designated the following information as directory information:

  • Student’s name;
  • Student’s local address (if listed);
  • Student’s local phone number (if listed);
  • MSU NetID e-mail address (if listed);
  • Student’s permanent address (if listed);
  • Student’s permanent telephone number (if listed);
  • Current enrollment status or dates of attendance;
  • Program level (undergraduate, graduate, professional);
  • Class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, etc.);
  • Major field of study;
  • Current term candidacy for degree and/or teacher certification;
  • Employment status as a graduate teaching or research assistant, office address and office phone number;
  • Information pertaining to awards and honors achievements;
  • Degree(s) earned from Michigan State University and effective date(s);
  • Participation in officially recognized University activities and sports, including weight and height of athletic team members;
  • The most recent educational agency or institution attended;
  • The registration documents of student organizations, which contain the contact information of the officers and the statement of purpose of the organization, can be obtained by contacting the Office of Spartan Experiences, located in the Student Services Building, Room 101, East Lansing, Michigan.

Restricting Directory Information
If the student does not want the University to disclose directory information from the student's education records without prior written consent, the student must notify the Office of the Registrar in writing. The student can also restrict their information by visiting the My Profile tile on their student homepage at and selecting "FERPA RESTRICTIONS" and reviewing their FERPA Activities. The student's request to opt-out of disclosure of directory information becomes a permanent part of the student's education record and continues after the student is no longer in attendance, unless the student instructs the University in writing to remove the request.

At postsecondary institutions, all FERPA rights belong to the student, regardless of age. Therefore, parents or guardians do not have any rights to inspect or review their child’s education records. Michigan State University only releases information to parents when the student has provided written consent. 

Students can grant guest access to certain information within the Student Information System. For more information about what information can be shared through guest access, and for instructions, visit the Granting Guest Access webpage.

Students who want to have other information or records shared with their parents or guardians can complete an authorization for disclosure form. A copy of the form is available on the resources section of this webpage.



Mandatory Training
Employees, including student employees, who have access to education records are required to complete FERPA training once every three years. The FERPA Training Course has migrated to the Ability Learning Management System. To self-enroll, click here. Once you have logged into Ability, select "Home" or "My Menu," then "My Requirements" to begin the course. If you do not see the FERPA training listed, use the green plus (+) icon on your “My Requirements” page to pop up a window that allows you to scroll down and select the FERPA training. Inside the FERPA track, click on the "FERPA for Employees" course and then "Launch."

Compliance Review
Departments can request a review of their policies and procedures to ensure that their protocols are FERPA compliant. Interested units should contact the FERPA Compliance Office at

Supplemental Training
Upon request, the FERPA Compliance Officer can provide additional in-person or virtual training opportunities for interested departments or units. Interested units should contact the FERPA Compliance Office at to schedule. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can the University disclose my information without my consent?
A: It depends. The university may disclose directory information without consent unless the student restricts their directory information. Other education records may be disclosed without consent only as permitted by law.

Q: I have more questions about FERPA.
A: Reach out to the FERPA Compliance Office at

Q: What are "education records," "personally identifiable information," or "directory information."
A: Definitions are available in the Access to Student Information Policy.


Q: I have completed the Authorization for Release – who do I give it to?
A: The form should be delivered to the unit or department being authorized to make disclosures.

Q: Can I submit one authorization form for the entire campus?
A: No. You will need to submit a request to the unit that holds the education record in question.

Q: Can I retract an authorization for release?
A: Yes. Contact the individual or department that holds the authorization and let them know you would like it retracted.

Q: How can I request to inspect and review my education records?
A: Email with your request. The FERPA Compliance Office will gather the responsive records and provide you the opportunity to inspect and review within 45 days of making the request.

Q: How do I restrict my directory information?
A: You can restrict your directory information through your Student Portal. If you have trouble, contact the Registrar’s Office.

Q: I have restricted my directory information and am graduating. Does that mean my name will not be in the program?
A: Yes. Students who have restricted their directory information will not have their names published in commencement programs.  


Q: My child is under 18. Can I access their education records without their consent?
A: No, FERPA rights exist regardless of age for postsecondary students.

Q: I want to speak to a professor/administrator/staff member about my student, how can I do that?
A: University personnel can answer generic questions without any kind of authorization. To discuss your student’s education records, your student will need to complete an Authorization for Release form and provide it to the unit/department. The form provides permission for the unit/department to disclose education records to you but does not require them to disclose. 

Q: Since I pay for my student’s education, can I access their records?
A: No.

Q: My child’s name didn’t appear on the Dean’s List or they weren’t listed in the Commencement Program, what gives?
A: It’s possible that your student has restricted their directory information. Students who have restricted their directory information will not have their names published by the university, including the Dean’s List or Commencement Programs. Inclusion on the Dean’s List also has other requirements; you can view those in the Academic Programs Catalog.


Q: If a student requests access to their education records, do I have to show the student their file?
A: Yes. FERPA provides that an institution must allow a current or former student to inspect and review his/her education records within 45 days of the request. If you are not sure what records are considered education records or need assistance, contact

Q: A partner/colleague/other office on campus asked me for part of a student’s education record. Can I share with them?
A: Under FERPA, education records may be shared with school officials who have a legitimate educational interest. A legitimate educational interest exists when “the information or record is relevant and necessary to the accomplishment of some employment or other institutional task, service, or function.” If you are unsure, speak to your unit/department leadership or contact the FERPA Compliance Office at

Q: Can I post student grades on a sheet outside my office door?
A: Posting of grades, whether by name, student ID, social security number, or other personally identifiable information, without the student’s permission is prohibited. You may post grades by providing each student a code name or number, as long as that code name or number cannot be re-identified back to the student.

Q: Can I provide letters of recommendation? Do I need a waiver?
A: Yes. To provide a letter of reference/recommendation for a student that discloses information from the student's education records, you must first obtain consent from the student. You can write a letter without consent if it only contains personal observations and does not disclose any information from education records. There is a combined consent/waiver form available under Resources.

Q: I want to post examples of student work/projects, and/or share student work on my website. Is this allowed?
A: You will need to obtain an Authorization for Release from any student(s) whose education records you wish to publish/utilize.


Q: I have received an Authorization for Release form. How do I know that it is legitimate?
A: Ask the student to send you the form via their MSU email. You may also accept a signed hard copy from the student. 

Q: What do I do with the Authorization for Release form? Who does it go to?
A: Forms should be delivered to and stored by the unit/department being authorized to make disclosures. Speak to your department chair or unit head about who specifically holds these forms.

Q: Does the Authorization for Release form obligate me to speak to a third party, or share all information?
A: No, the form says that you may disclose, not that you must disclose. It is up to your professional judgment as to what information is disclosed.


Q: Why was I registered for the FERPA Compliance Training?
A: School Officials who have access to student education records are required to complete FERPA training. If you believe you were assigned to this training in error, please speak with your supervisor and contact

Q: How long will this training take?
A: Most individuals should be able to complete the training in 30-60 minutes.

Q: I think I need to complete FERPA Compliance Training, but I haven’t been assigned to it.
A: If you have access to education records, you will need to complete the training. You should speak with your supervisor and contact if you need additional assistance.