Financial aid professionals collect, manage, and have access to a vast amount of confidential student and parent data. This data includes information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), and the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), as well as information from other sources, such as tax returns, professional judgment documents, student progress data, and other private and sensitive information.
There are three important laws that control the release of student data: (1) Sections 483(a)(3)(E) and 485B(d)(2) of the Higher Education Act (HEA), as amended; (2) the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); and (3) the Privacy Act. The NASFAA Statement of Ethical Principles, which serves to guide member practices, also reflects the statutory and regulatory restrictions on the improper release of student data.
Current data-sharing rules under 99.31(a)(3)(iii) and 99.35 and section 483(a)(3)(E) of the HEA allow institutions to report student personally-identifiable information, including FAFSA data, on federal reports that are used to evaluate federal education programs, such as the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) and the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).