Does FERPA protect the education records of students that are deceased?

Consistent with common law principles, the Department interprets the FERPA rights of eligible students to lapse or expire upon the death of the student.  Therefore, FERPA would not protect the education records of a deceased eligible student (i.e., a student 18 years old or older or in college at any age).  Therefore, an educational agency or institution may disclose such records at its discretion or consistent with State law.  However, at the elementary/secondary level, FERPA rights do not lapse or expire upon the death of a non-eligible student because FERPA provides specifically that the rights it affords rest with the parents of students until that student reaches 18 years of age or attends an institution of postsecondary education.  In a situation in which a non-eligible student dies, the records continue to be protected by FERPA.  Once the parents are deceased, the records are no longer protected by FERPA.

Audience: 
K-12 School Officials
Parents and Students
Postsecondary School Officials
Topics: 
Data Sharing
FERPA