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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, abbreviated as FERPA, is a federal law in the United States of America that protects the privacy of educational records for students from elementary school to college and university. FERPA, which applies to schools that have received Department of Education funding, serves several functions, including giving students the right to review and request changes to their education records, as well as controlling how their personal information is disclosed to outside entities.

FERPA is a law that protects information about a student’s educational standing and status, including report cards, transcripts, and anything related to disciplinary action, for university-age students in the United States. However, certain educational-related information about a student can be disclosed without that student’s express permission, such as when a student applies to another academic institution.

FERPA also allows a school to disclose personally identifiable information from an “eligible student’s” (a student age 18 or older or enrolled in a postsecondary institution at any age) education records to his or her parents if the student is a dependent “student” as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code. In general, if either parent claimed the student as a dependent on the parent’s most recent U.S. Federal income tax return, the school may disclose the student’s educational records to both parents without their consent.

The law granted students applying to an educational institution, such as graduate school, the right to review recommendations submitted by others as part of their application. Students are given the option to waive this right on standard application forms. Employees of educational institutions who are not students are specifically excluded from FERPA.

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