Requests for Information on Students

David Yeh, Associate Vice President for the Registrar and Student Services at Cornell University, has provided the following clarification of FERPA (1974 Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and how it pertains to requests for information on students:

Any Federal Agent (FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), Military police, police agencies, other government agencies), must abide by the same rules as ordinary citizens and private/public organization.

They must have a signed release of information from the student if it is to obtain anything but directory information.

They must show their identification card and cite specifically what is the nature of their inquiry. If it is an investigation, then, you and faculty should direct them to see a member of University Counsel...this is a case where they must proceed with a warrant or legal affidavit requiring us to produce specific information/data. That is always done through Counsel's office.

If the inquiry is for employment and security purposes, they must still show a signed release, by our alumni/former student, that gives us permission to release specific information, other than the standard directory information.

The law protects a student when they are a student. We, Cornell, makes no such distinction and consider a student's education records--which includes any documents, records, files retained in the department, part of that educational record. That is why it is oftimes better to not retain records for too long a period. Students may use Credential services (in Cornell Career Services) to retain records for purposes of references, etc. There is a fee, but those records may not be released without the students consent, yet, contains all references, etc.