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Forum Guide to the Privacy of Student Information
NCES 2006-805
July 2006

Education Records

FERPA applies to any education agency or institution that receives funds under a program administered by the U. S. Department of Education.

The term "education records" is defined as all records, files, documents and other materials containing information directly related to a student; and are maintained by the education agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution (34 CFR § 99.3). This includes all records regardless of medium, including, but not limited to, handwriting, videotape or audiotape, electronic or computer files, film, print, microfilm, and microfiche.

In addition, for students who attend a public school district, all records pertaining to services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are considered "education records" under FERPA. As such, they are subject to the confidentiality provisions of both Acts.

For PreK–12 students, health records maintained by an education agency or institution subject to FERPA, including immunization records and school nurse records, generally would be also considered "education records" and subject to FERPA because they are:

  • directly related to the student;
  • maintained by an education agency or institution, or a party acting for the agency or institution; and
  • not excluded from the definition of education records as treatment or sole-possession records, or on some other basis. (See Health Records: FERPA and HIPAA.)

Personal notes made by teachers or other staff, on the other hand, are not considered education records if they are:

  • kept in the sole possession of the maker;
  • not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute, and
  • used only as a memory aid.

Records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit for law enforcement purposes are also excluded.

More on FERPA can be found at: