When should you release a student’s educational records and when must they be kept confidential?
Students have a right to inspect and amend their educational records and to protect them against unauthorized disclosures. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) is a federal law that protects these rights and dictates how the university responds to requests for educational records.
Students may request their own educational records pursuant to the university’s FERPA policy. Most educational records are available online through the Student Information System (SIS). Additional records (such as disciplinary findings) may be stored locally with individual schools or departments. The Office of University Counsel can assist you in managing FERPA requests by offering redaction services (to “black out” social security numbers and other sensitive information) and by providing secure links for electronic viewing, where appropriate.
Unlike in the K-12 system, parents are generally not entitled to see the educational records of college students. Tufts therefore encourages students to speak with their families about what (if any) educational records they intend to share with one another and suggests having this conversation before classes start and grades come in. Educational records that relate to drug and alcohol violations, disciplinary and academic sanctions, and/or health and safety emergencies will be disclosed pursuant to the university’s FERPA policy.
The university cannot release educational records to third parties unless it has received a valid subpoena and has made a reasonable effort to notify the student of its intention to comply with the subpoena by producing the requested records. If you receive a request for educational records from a person or organization outside the university, you should not produce any records without first contacting the Office of University Counsel. If you are contacted by an attorney, please refer the attorney to our office.