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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law pertaining to the release of and access to student educational records. FERPA protects students’ rights regarding the privacy and accuracy of education records. Under FERPA, students are given three primary rights. They have the right to:

  • Inspect and review their education records
  • Have some control over the disclosure of information from their education records.
  • Seek to amend incorrect education records.

Confidentiality of Student Records

While most information about a student is considered private and no one other than school officials (faculty and staff) with a legitimate educational interest may have access to it without the written consent of the student, certain categories of information designated as “directory information” may be disclosed by Principia College without obtaining the prior consent of the student.

Directory information includes:

  • student’s name
  • date of birth
  • home address
  • email address
  • telephone number
  • fields of study
  • academic advisor
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • weight and height of athletic team members
  • class level
  • dormitory or house
  • courses taken and current registration
  • status (full or part-time)
  • dates of attendance
  • degrees received
  • academic honors and awards
  • most recent educational institution attended

The term “student” includes current and former students. Some examples of confidential and private student information are social security numbers, transcripts, grades, and student disciplinary records.  See this page for exceptions when disciplinary records may become part of the student's educational record. 

Please see additional details in the catalog

Exceptions to FERPA:

  • Health or safety emergencies involving the student
  • Principia faculty and staff who have a legitimate educational interest or need to perform their responsibilities
  • Underage student involved in violation of federal, state, or local/institution laws or regulations
  • Complying with a judicial order or subpoena
  • Disclosure to authorized representatives of federal, state, or local educational authorities
  • Disclosure in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or received
  • If the student is claimed as a legal dependent on that parent’s most recent federal income tax return
  • Principia agents such as the company contracted to supply academic transcripts
  • Research consultants who are contractually bound to Principia’s confidentiality requirement of strict non-disclosure of private student information
  • Accrediting organizations
  • Privacy rights regarding Title IX issues are reviewed here.

With written notice to the Registrar, students may opt out of any Principia disclosure of directory or private information to any third party except for Principia agents or consultants bound by Principia’s privacy policy. Please contact the Registrar if you would like to discuss opting out.

Privacy Information for Parents

As provided by federal law in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the university may choose to release information about a student’s academic performance to a parent if the student is claimed as a legal dependent on that parent’s most recent federal income tax return. However, Principia prefers that students take the initiative to disclose and discuss academic goals and progress with their parents.

If a student gives parents’ rights to their academic records, what happens?

  • We can talk to parents about your academic records if they call
  • We will send final grades after the end of term

Students need to fill out a Release of Academic Information form to allow or deny release of their academic information to parents.