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What rights does FERPA afford to students?

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FERPA provides students with several specific rights.

First, students have the right to inspect and review nearly all the information the University maintains on them. The two specific exceptions to this are: letters of recommendation a student has waived the right to review and parents’ financial information (this usually is maintained in the financial aid office).

Second, students have the right to request an amendment to a record if they believe it contains inaccurate or misleading information, or is a violation of privacy rights. Upon request for amendment by the student, the institution decides if the record will remain intact or be amended. If a request for amendment is not granted, the student can request a hearing for amendment. The final decision to amend the record resides with the institution. The University of Minnesota is not required to entertain amendment requests that seek to change a disciplinary or grade decision, the opinions or reflections of a school official or other person reflected in an education record.

Third, students have the right to consent to disclosure of personably identifiable information (exceptions apply to this and will be addressed in upcoming screens).

Fourth, students have a right to know what an institution has designated as public/directory information and the right to limit the release—the University of Minnesota uses the term “suppress public information”—of that information.

Fifth, students have a right to know school officials may access their records, and the criteria for determining that a school official has a legitimate need-to-know the information. 

Sixth, students can file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office in the U.S. Department of Education if they believe information has been disclosed without their consent or withheld from review. This complaint must be in writing, be within 180 days of the alleged offense and contain the specifics of the incident. The address for submitting complaints is: 

Family Policy Compliance Office 
US Department of Education
130 Coffey Hall
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5920