Access to student education records is regulated by a federal statute, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). FERPA has two central purposes: It ensures that students have the ability to review and, if necessary, correct information contained in their education records, and it protects education records against disclosure to persons outside the University. The following is a brief description of some of FERPA's most important provisions.
Definitions. FERPA defines a “student” as any person who is or who has been enrolled in the University. An “education record” is also defined broadly, encompassing most records maintained by or on behalf of Yale relating directly to a current or former student. So long as a document is in the possession of the University or someone working for the University, it may be considered an education record. Accordingly, a document may be part of a student’s education record even if it is not located in an official file marked with the student’s name. However, because FERPA does not apply to some important types of records (e.g., medical records and law enforcement records), you should speak with the registrar for your school or program before making a judgment about whether a particular document is covered by the statute.
A Student’s Right to Review and Correct Education Records. A student who wishes to review his or her education records must submit a dated, written request to the office responsible for keeping the records. Within 45 days of receiving the request, the office receiving such a request must notify the student of a place and time to review the records. If a student lives within commuting distance of Yale and is physically able to travel, the University is not required to provide photocopies of records. In most circumstances, students do not have the right to review (i) their parents’ financial records or (ii) confidential recommendations to which they have waived access. If a student asks to see his or her education records, you should refer the student to the registrar for the student’s school or program. If a student believes that his or her records are inaccurate, misleading, or violate his or her privacy, Yale will give the student an opportunity to seek their correction. Please consult with the OGC regarding any request by a student to correct his or her records.
Protection of Education Records from Disclosure. As a general rule, Yale may not disclose the education records of a student to a third party without the student's prior written consent. The student’s consent is valid only if it is signed and dated by the student and it specifies (i) the records to be disclosed, (ii) the purpose of the disclosure, and (iii) the parties to whom the disclosure may be made. Because there are many exceptions to the rule prohibiting disclosure without the student’s consent, you should not make a judgment regarding the University’s right to disclose an education record to a third party without consulting the registrar for your school or program. If you receive a request for education records from a law enforcement agency or from an attorney, please contact the OGC immediately.
More information on FERPA is available on the website of the Office of the Registrar, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Key FERPA documents available on this website include: the Notification of Student Rights under FERPA, Yale University's Statement on Disclosure of Directory Information, and the Form to Request Withholding of Directory Information.