The Fundamentals of FERPA

Perhaps no statute is more fundamental to higher education than the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  It touches almost everything that institutions do and almost every administrator they employ. And perhaps no higher education statute is more misunderstood.  While its provisions are relatively straightforward, confusion arises when administrators rely on misconceptions about what FERPA should say rather than on its actual language.

Join instructor Steven McDonald in this eight-module online course that will give you a comprehensive, practical understanding of FERPA, so that you can apply it accurately and appropriately on your campus:  When may you share records about a student, what records may be shared, and with whom may you share them?  When and how may a student access his or her own records – and require you to correct them?  What (really) happens if you get it wrong, and how can you fix it when you do?

Topics covered will include:   

  • The Overall Structure of FERPA
  • Key FERPA Definitions: Understanding What an Education Record Is (and Isn’t), Who Is a Student, and More
  • The Rules of Disclosure for Education Records
  • The Rights of Students – and of Their Parents
  • FERPA Compliance and Enforcement

This informative and convenient course is a blend of self-study and instructor-facilitated learning. Participants can access materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The course features:

  • Access to eight narrated PowerPoint presentations, self-assessments, and extensive resources. 
  • Access to two live webinars with the course instructor (recordings are made available to those who were not able to attend live). 

The course costs $299 for all participants. Register today!

Questions? Contact NACUA at with questions about CLE credits or content. For technical support questions, contact For more information, visit NACUA’s Online Learning Center Support Page.

Course Schedule


  • Course objectives and outline
  • Background/history and basics
  • Overview of FERPA's structure

What is an "Education Record?"

  • FERPA's "revisionist" history
  • Key definitions
  • Email and other examples

What Isn't an "Education Record?"

  • Key exclusions
  • FERPA, HIPAA, and state medical confidentiality statutes

Disclosure of Education Records I

  • Disclosures with and without consent
    • Directory information
    • Health or safety emergency
    • School officials 
    • Parents

Disclosure of Education Records II

  • Without consent (continued)
    • Disciplinary actions
    • FERPA and Title IX
    • State longitudinal database systems


Disclosure of Education Records III

  • Implied waiver of FERPA rights
  • Disclosure of de-identified records
  • Authentication requirements for disclosure
  • Safeguarding requirements
  • Implicit disclosures
  • Redisclosure and recordation requirements

The "Forgotten" Parts of FERPA

  • The right to "inspect and review"
    • Records pertaining to multiple students
  • The right to "seek amendment"
  • Annual notification of rights enforcement

Applied and Practical FERPA

  • Teaching and working in the cloud
  • FERPA vs. state public records requirements
  • Transcript notations
  • Practical tips



May 3, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET
Covering Modules 1 - 5

  • Opportunity for Q&A with instructor
  • Recording is available for all registrants


May 23, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET
Covering Modules 6 - 8

  • Opportunity for Q&A with instructor
  • Recording is available for all registrants



Steven J. McDonald


Steven J. McDonald is General Counsel at Rhode Island School of Design and previously served as Associate Legal Counsel at The Ohio State University. He is the editor of The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: A Legal Compendium; the author of ...

About Online Courses

NACUA's online courses give participants in-depth coverage of important issues in the practice of higher education law. Each course features webinars that enable participants to ask questions to...

CLE Credit Information

You may be eligible to receive CLE credit for participating in a NACUA online course. MCLE credit is subject to each state's rules and regulations. States differ in their definition of "CLE"...

Frequently Asked Questions

This eight-week course contains narrated PowerPoint presentations (like pre-recorded virtual seminars), self-assessment quizzes, and reading assignments. In addition, this course...