Ask the FERPA Professor

Dear FERPA Professor,

LeRoy, this may seem like an odd question, but we’re debating the language of WHEN a person becomes a student. Most of my prior institutions have defined this as the first day of the first semester in which a student has enrolled. There is some question on my campus if this can be worded as the student’s first day of classes—for example, if our semester starts on a Tuesday, but the person has only Mon/Wed/Fri classes, could this person become a student on Wednesday instead of Tuesday? What’s your take on this?


Ben Jammin


Dear Ben,

Under FERPA, institutions can generally determine when and applicant becomes a "student in attendance."  It is "generally" because you must have some reasonable basis for the determination, it must be applied consistently, and it cannot be later than the first day of class attendance.  You can find a letter on page 247 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide which will be helpful in further explaining "in attendance" and FERPA.

I hope this is helpful in answering your query.


The FERPA Professor

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