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FERPA Resources

FERPA policies on access to student records

Applicable law and College policy govern access to student records. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) forms the backdrop for Macalester’s policies on access to student records.

The Data Governance committee guides our directory information and access to student records. Additional relevant policies include Information Security policy and Managing Student Records.

FERPA applies to student education records, which is defined broadly. Under FERPA, student education records include those records that are directly related to a student and maintained by Macalester, and may include:

  • Records containing personally identifiable information (e.g., name, birthdate, address etc.)
  • Enrollment records
  • Student’s exams or papers
  • Grades
  • Class schedules

FERPA handout

For a one-page overview of FERPA, view “FERPA: What faculty and staff need to know” handout.

Students’ rights

Under FERPA, students generally have the right to:

  • Inspect and review their own education records
  • Seek amendment of their education records
  • Opt out of the disclosure of directory information
  • Receive annual notice of their rights under FERPA

Students who believe their FERPA rights have been violated can file complaints with the US Department of Education, Student Privacy Policy Office.

Students may update their FERPA authorization at any time by providing written consent to the Registrar’s Office.

General FERPA guidelines

Macalester provides the following guidelines for College personnel regarding compliance with FERPA and related guidance:

  • Only access student education records as part of your job duties for Macalester.
  • Applicable law provides reasonable timeframes to respond to requests relating to student education records. Utilize this time to verify the legitimacy of any requests and provide an appropriate response.
  • Share student education records within the College only with those who have a “legitimate educational interest.”
  • Do not post grades or return graded materials in such a way that one student can see or ascertain the grade of another.
  • Obtain a student’s written permission for any protected material put in a letter of recommendation. (Or give the letter to the student for distribution.)
  • Determine whether a student has requested non-disclosure of any directory information before providing any such information.

Directory information (public)

The following information is public per College policy, unless a student has met the College’s requirements for opting out of the sharing of directory information:

  • Student name
  • Local address
  • Local telephone number
  • Email address
  • Hometown
  • Major field of study
  • Date and place of birth
  • Dates of attendance
  • Degrees, honors, and awards received
  • Most recent previous educational institution attended
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams

Restriction of Directory Information

Students may opt out of the disclosure of directory information by contacting the Registrar’s Office. Opt outs will be honored once confirmed by the Registrar’s Office. Opt out restrictions will be effective until rescinded by the student.

Non-public (private) information

Apart from directory information, student education records are not public and may not be released except under certain, prescribed conditions. Non-releasable information generally includes, for example:

  • Grades
  • Courses taken
  • Schedule
  • Test scores
  • Advising records
  • Educational services received
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Social security number
  • Student ID number

Information requests

The following information generally applies to requests for student education records:

  • Official records (e.g., transcripts) should be sent by the office responsible for the record.
  • Requests for lists of currently enrolled students should be sent to the Registrar’s Office.
  • Requests for lists of students from a member of the public/someone not affiliated with the College should be referred to Institutional Research.


If you have questions, please contact [email protected].

FERPA for Parents

FERPA is federal law that protects the privacy of student’s education record and impacts access to the information. FERPA rights transfer to the student (regardless of age) at the point of matriculation (officially enrolled and attending a course) at Macalester. In many cases, some offices allow FERPA to guide their interactions with parents before students have matriculated in an effort to guard the student’s privacy. Once a student begin college in the US, parents have no inherent rights to access information regarding their student’s education record.

As a parent, how do I see my student’s education record?
Per FERPA, protected records can only be released with the student’s prior written consent. Therefore, parents may only have access to their student’s information if the student has provided the College with an authorized release granting access. Students grant this authorization at the point of admission to Macalester and may update this authorization at any time by providing written consent to the Registrar’s Office.