Media sometimes ask colleges and universities to provide information about students that institutions are not permitted to share in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
FERPA applies to all colleges and universities that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. When institutions cite FERPA when declining to provide certain information about students, they are upholding their legal obligations to students. Failure to comply with FERPA could expose the institution to fines or a loss of federal funds.
FERPA governs what information Wake Forest University may release under certain circumstances, but it does not ever require the University to release any information. The following information explains how FERPA pertains to information media may request.
What is a student education record?
Student education records are records directly related to a student and maintained by the institution or by a party acting for the institution. Examples include grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, student financial information, and student discipline files. Education records may exist in any medium, including print or electronic.
FERPA permits an institution to disclose certain information, known as “directory information,” about a student without the student’s consent, unless the student has placed a restriction on the release of such information. In that case, the information will not be disclosed except with the consent of the student or as otherwise allowed by FERPA.
Information designated by Wake Forest University as directory information consists of the following: (1) name, (2) address, (3) telephone number, (4) electronic mail addresses, (5) date and place of birth, (6) major field of study, (7) enrollment status (undergraduate or graduate, full or part-time), (8) class level, (9) participation in officially recognized activities and sports, (10) weight and height of members of athletic teams, (11) dates of attendance, (12) degrees and awards received, (13) the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, and (14) other similar information such as a photograph.
Directory information does not include:
- Ethnicity or race
- Social security number
- Student identification number
- Religious affiliation
- Grades or GPA
- Course enrollment or schedule
- Circumstances of an enrollment change (withdrawal, expulsion, etc.)