Ask the FERPA Professor

Hello FERPA Professor,

I received a call from our institution’s attorney asking about how we communicate student record information to our students, specifically if we have to have all official communication on letterhead according to FERPA. The situation is that we have a former student who falsified his information, took classes here, and now refuses to pay saying that it wasn’t him who took the class. It was determined that it was in fact him who took the class and our provost sent the student an email declining his appeal.  Now the student is saying that according to FERPA, the institution has to notify him of the decision on institutional letterhead. 

I can’t find anything in the FERPA book that substantiates the claim the student is making.  The decision was sent to the student using the provost’s institutional email account. To be honest, I’m skeptical and I think he wants the letterhead to doctor it up to write his own letter.

Can you please verify if we need to send the decision via a letter on institutional letterhead?

Kind Regards,

Anna Banana


Dear Anna,

It sounds like you have a creative as well as cunning student.  You can put your mind at ease, however, concerning the claim about having to notify the student on official letterhead. 

The reason you could not find anything about this in the regulations or the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide is that there is no such requirement in FERPA.  It could be interesting to ask the student to provide the citation in FERPA on which he is making such a claim.

All the best in dealing with your former student.

The FERPA Professor


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