The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law designed to help protect the privacy of student education records. FERPA provides eligible students the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to amend incorrect education records and the right to limit disclosure of information from their education records. The Act applies to all institutions that are the recipients of federal aid administered by the Secretary of Education.

FERPA protects the education records of students who are currently or were formerly enrolled regardless of their age. The education records of deceased students and students who have applied to—but have not attended—an institution are not subject to FERPA guidelines.

View complete FERPA policy

Education records

According to FERPA an education record—with limited exception—is a record which is maintained by the institution, directly related to the student and from which a student can be identified. Based on this definition records from virtually all academic, financial and administrative offices fall under the FERPA umbrella.

Directory information

Western Michigan University—in accordance with FERPA—has designated the following categories of information about individual students as directory information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • WMU email address
  • Curriculum and major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Enrollment status
  • Degrees and awards received
  • Most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Directory information is subject to disclosure without the consent of the student. Students do have the right to request that any or all directory information not be released without their written consent. To invoke this right a student must complete the confidentiality form and return the signed form to the Registrar’s Office. This notice will then remain in effect until it is revoked in writing by the student.

Information can be shared within the University among appropriate university personnel having legitimate educational interest in the records. Non-directory information can be released if a signed and dated consent is obtained from the student. The consent must specify the records that may be disclosed, state the purpose of disclosure and identify the party or parties to whom the disclosure may be made. Students may request that the information disclosed be released to them as well.

Questions or concerns

If you have questions or concerns regarding the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act you may contact the Office of the Registrar.

For more information on FERPA please contact:

Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20202-5920 USA
(202) 260-3887

FERPA brochure