FERPA & Virtual Learning


FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended), also known as the Buckley Amendment, was passed by Congress in 1974. It grants three specific rights to a post-secondary student:

  • To inspect and review the education records that the institution is keeping on the student within 45 days of a request.
  • To seek amendment to the student’s education records and in certain cases append a statement to the record.
  • To control the disclosure of a student’s educational records to others except when the student provides consent, or as required or permitted by CSCU BOR policy or by law.

Unlike at the primary and secondary level, these rights belong to the post-secondary student, and not to the student’s parents or legal guardians, regardless of the student’s age. Moreover, the rights continue to exist after the student’s graduation and expire only upon either the destruction of the relevant records or the student’s death.  If students feel their rights have been violated, they have the right to file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education, however, FERPA does not create personal rights that an individual may enforce.


Under FERPA, “education records” are, with certain exceptions, those records, files, documents and other materials that are:

  • Directly related to a student; and
  • Maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting on behalf of the educational agency or institution, and are not specifically excluded under the six categories of exceptions set out in 20 USC 1232g(a)(4)(B).