What is FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended, is a federal law that sets forth requirements regarding the privacy of student records. FERPA governs the disclosure of student records maintained by an educational institution as well as access to those records. Students enrolled in any course offered by KSU, at any location or through any method of delivery (i.e., campus/on-site, hybrid, partially online and fully online) are covered by FERPA. KSU defines an admitted student as one who is in attendance upon enrollment/registration for classes. Institutions that receive funds administered by the U.S. Department of Education are bound by FERPA requirements and failure to comply may result in the loss of federal funding.

WHAT IS AN EDUCATIONAL RECORD? In general, the term means records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational institution. This include most anything about a student that is written down, regardless of whether it is in a formal document or in an email or letter, recording or photograph.

FERPA applies to all educational agencies or institutions, including Kennesaw State University (KSU), which receive funds under any program administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA grants four specific rights to the student:

  1. The right to inspect and review their education records.
  2. The right to control the disclosure of their education records.
  3. The right to seek to amend education records that are believed to be inaccurate or misleading.
  4. The right to file a complaint to the federal government in regard to non-compliance from KSU.

What may be released

FERPA governs what may be released, but does not require that any information be released.

  • Directory information can be shared without written consent, but all other Education Records can only be released with the student’s consent or if certain exemptions set forth in the FERPA regulations are met.  Further, a student can request in writing, each semester that his or her Directory Information not be released.

    Below is the information that KSU has defined as being Directory Information. If it is not on this list, it is not Directory Information and cannot be released without the the student’s consent (unless another exception to FERPA applies):

    • Name
    • Field of Study (Major, Minor, Certificates)
    • Advisor
    • Dates of Attendance
    • Degrees Awarded (including dates)
    • Awards and Honors Received
    • Weight and Height of Athletic Participants
    • Participation in Officially Recognized Activities or Sports
    • KSU Student Email-addresses**
    • Enrollment Status (part/full time)

    **While Student email addresses is directory information, the contents of a student’s email is not directory information. 

    Examples of Non-Directory student record information that should not be disclosed without prior written consent of the student are:

    • Social Security Number/KSU Student ID Number
    • Grades, Credits hours (attempted or earned)
    • Grade Point Averages
    • Personal Email Addresses
    • Residency Status
    • Tuition and Fee Payment Records
    • Financial Aid Records
    • Marital status
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Citizenship
    • Parent’s Name and Address
    • Current Class Schedule
    • Disciplinary Actions
    • Academic Actions
  • If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar: 470-578-6415.

    The Office of the Registrar is the only university office authorized to issue official transcripts and certify students’ enrollment status. All requests for such documentation must be directed to this office.

    If you are ever in doubt, do not release any information until you contact the Office of the Registrar by phone 470-578-6415 or email to registrar@kennesaw.edu.

  • At KSU, students are notified of their FERPA rights via an annual email in September and February and via this website.

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records.  (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.)  These rights include:

    1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days after the day the Kennesaw State University receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect.  The school 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 the school official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.

    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. A student who wishes to ask the school to amend a record should write the school 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 school decides not to amend the record as requested, the school 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 (PII) from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
      Education records can be disclosed without a student’s prior written consent to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by Kennesaw State University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including law en­forcement unit personnel); or a student serving on an official committee, or who is assisting a school official in performing his or her tasks (teaching assistants, research assistants, graduate assistants, and work study).

      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 at Kennesaw State University.

    4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Kennesaw State University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. A parent of a student under the age of 18 at an elementary or secondary school or a student who is at least 18 years of age or attending a postsecondary institution at any age (“eligible student”) may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) regarding an alleged violation of a school’s failure to comply with his or her rights under FERPA. A parent of an eligible student generally may not file a complaint under FERPA, as the rights afforded to parents are transferred to the student when he or she becomes an eligible student. 

      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

    See the list below of the disclosures that postsecondary institutions may make without consent.
    FERPA permits the disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from students’ education records, without consent of the student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in §99.31 of the FERPA regulations.  Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information, and disclosures to the student, §99.32 of FERPA regulations requires the institution to record the disclosure.  Eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures.  A postsecondary institution may disclose PII from the education records without obtaining prior written consent of the student –

    • To other school officials, including teachers, within Kennesaw State University whom the school has determined to have legitimate educational interests.  This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the school has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(1) - (a)(1)(i)(B)(2) are met. (§99.31(a)(1))
    • To officials of another school where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of §99.34.  (§99.31(a)(2))
    • To authorized representatives of the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or State and local educational authorities, such as a State postsecondary authority that is responsible for supervising the university’s State-supported education programs.  Disclosures under this provision may be made, subject to the requirements of §99.35, in connection with an audit or evaluation of Federal- or State-supported education programs, or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements that relate to those programs.  These entities may make further disclosures of PII to outside entities that are designated by them as their authorized representatives to conduct any audit, evaluation, or enforcement or compliance activity on their behalf.  (§§99.31(a)(3) and 99.35)
    • In connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received, if the information is necessary to determine eligibility for the aid, determine the amount of the aid, determine the conditions of the aid, or enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.  (§99.31(a)(4))
    • To organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the school, in order to:  (a) develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.  (§99.31(a)(6))
    • To accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions.  ((§99.31(a)(7))
    • To parents of an eligible student if the student is a dependent for IRS tax purposes.  (§99.31(a)(8))
    • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.  (§99.31(a)(9))
    • To appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency, subject to §99.36.  (§99.31(a)(10))
    • Information the school has designated as “directory information” under §99.37.  (§99.31(a)(11))
    • To a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of §99.39.  The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.  (§99.31(a)(13))
    • To the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39, if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. (§99.31(a)(14))
    • To parents of a student regarding the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the school, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the school determines the student committed a disciplinary violation and the student is under the age of 21. (§99.31(a)(15))
  • 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 of 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 have 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.
  • Kennesaw State University may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record to appropriate parties, including parents of an eligible student, in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

    In the case of an emergency, direct all student information requests to Public Safety: 470-578-6666.

  • The KSU Data Security Policy defines the usage and security requirements of confidential and sensitive data at Kennesaw State University. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for appropriate usage and security of confidential and sensitive information at KSU and is essential for compliance with federal, state, and University System of Georgia (USG) regulations. This policy sets forth KSU’s standards in regard to handling confidential and sensitive institutional data and serves as the consumer data and privacy policy for the University.

    Violations of this policy are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    Email all notifications of student data breaches to the University Registrar, registrar@kennesaw.edu

  • The Georgia Open Records Act requires that public records be open and available for inspection by a requesting party within a reasonable amount of time after the receipt of the request, unless the records are those exempted by law from disclosure (e.g., student educational records).  Any Open Records requests must be forwarded immediately upon receipt to the KSU Office of Legal Affairs for initial response on behalf of the University.