FERPA FAQ – What You Need to Know About FERPA Compliance

by Sarah Harvey / November 15th, 2018

Does your organization process, store, transmit, or use educational records? Are you responsible for ensuring that the information of students remains secure? FERPA is one of the most significant federal regulations in the education sector, aimed at protecting the privacy of students and their parents. Undergoing a FERPA audit is one way that educational institutions can identify and mitigate any vulnerabilities in their security infrastructure and are doing what is needed to protect students’ information. In this guide, you’ll learn the rights FERPA gives students and their parents, the controls used to assess an organization’s FERPA compliance, how a FERPA audit could benefit your organization, and ways that you can prepare for a FERPA audit. Let’s start with the basics first.

What is a FERPA Audit?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) governs the access and privacy of educational information and records, such as enrollment information, GPAs, billing information, student course schedules, and student financial records. The educational records that a covered entity or business associate creates, receives, maintains, or transmits must be protected against reasonably anticipated threats, hazards, and impermissible uses and/or disclosures. FERPA compliance protects the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of educational records.

Who Needs a FERPA Audit?

Are you a service provider to educational institutions? Are you an educational institution or agency that receives federal funding? If your organization is an educational institution that receives federal funding or an organization that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits educational records, you must be compliant with FERPA.

What are the Benefits of Receiving a FERPA Audit Report?

FERPA compliance affirms the security of your services and gives your organization the ability to provide clients and regulators with evidence from an auditor who has actually seen your internal controls in place and operating. FERPA compliance can help your organization maintain loyal clients and attract new ones, operate more efficiently, avoid fines for non-compliance or a loss of federal funding, and most importantly: assure clients and regulators that students’ personal data is protected.