What is Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) opt-out
The FERPA opt-out stops schools from releasing student directory information, such as name, home address, and date of birth, without consent, with some limitations. While some parts of school records may be given out only with written consent, schools still have the right to give out what is called "directory information" without student consent, including potentially giving the information out over the phone. Directory information includes the student’s name, school and permanent address, school and permanent home telephone number, school mailbox address, major, dates of attendance, degree(s) received and dates of conferral, and other personally identifying information. There is some variability; some schools also consider the weight and height of athletes, the school email address, and participation in officially recognized activities to be directory information.
If there is a FERPA opt-out form on file for the student, the student can prevent the public disclosure of his or her directory information. Then, only legitimate employers or law enforcement professionals or others with a legitimate interest should be able to access that sensitive directory information. Victims of domestic violence may find filing a FERPA opt-out to be crucial to them. For more information: See U.S. Department of Education's FERPA site.
How to opt-out
FERPA opt-outs are often done with a FERPA form supplied by the school. Usually school records offices will have FERPA information for you, or will know where to send you to find that information. Colleges and some other schools may post the form online. For students under 18, parents have to sign the FERPA forms. This will limit how students' home address and other directory information can be released. If you search the web for “FERPA” plus the name of your school, you may find detailed information about how to file a FERPA opt-out for your school available online. FERPA opt-outs may also be called “Restriction of Directory Information” at some schools.