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3. Student records

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  • Alaska

    Educational institutions are legally required to maintain many student records as confidential, in particular those covered by the federal "Buckley Amendment," or Family Educational Privacy Act of 1972. See 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. Alaska’s Public Records Act expressly exempts public records from the requirement that they be made available on request “to the extent the records are required to be kept confidential under 20 U.S.C. 1232g and the regulations adopted under 20 U.S.C.1232g in order to secure or retain federal assistance.” AS 40.25.120(a)(5). A number of documents relating to students do not fall within the restrictions of the Buckley Amendment, and, of course, most documents that relate to operations of school districts and the state university system are not protected student-specific records and are public. Litigation records, including records of settlements, which identify students and are otherwise public should not be withheld, and in any event appropriate redactions could be negotiated to permit the public disclosure of settlement terms and other evidence of operations of the governmental unit involved.
    Matters involving consideration of government records that by law are not subject to public disclosure are properly considered in an executive session. So, for example, in an otherwise public hearing concerning discipline of a school teacher, a claim arising out of or relating to that teacher's alleged improper handling of an IEP plan for an individual student would presumably be conducted in a closed session, and with a separate sealed record. A school district or school district employee with information that a student or employee of the district has acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) must keep the information confidential except from public health officials and certain district personnel on a need-to-know basis. 4 AAC 6.150.

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  • Arizona

    Student records are not public records.  See Congress Elementary Sch. Dist. No. 17 of Yavapai Cty. v. Warren, 227 Ariz. 16, 17 n.2, 251 P.3d 395, 396 n.2 (Ct. App. 2011).

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  • Arkansas

    Most student records are exempt from the FOIA. The statute exempts “education records as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, unless their disclosure is consistent with the provisions of [that act].” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(b)(2). Under the FERPA, education records include “records, files, documents, and materials which contain information directly related to a student.” 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A). Grade transcripts in possession of the educational entity are student records and are exempt from disclosure. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2003-231.

    The exceptions to that rule include information kept by a campus law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement; records maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional in the treatment of the student; or directory information, which includes the student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(4)(A)-1232g(a)(5).

    FERPA does not prohibit a university from disclosing information concerning certain violent crimes and nonforcible sex offenses if the university determines that “the student committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies with respect to [the] offense.” The perpetrator’s name, the offense, and the sanction imposed can all be disclosed. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(6)(B)-(C). This information is also not exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2001-046.

    FERPA is limited to records that identify a student personally, and such records can be disclosed if the student’s personally identifying information is redacted. See Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2001-154.

    Because the FERPA applies only to education records kept by schools, colleges, and a few other agencies, student records—such as transcripts—that are kept as part of an employee’s personnel file are subject to disclosure if there would be no clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(b)(12).

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  • California

    Elementary school pupil records are generally exempt. Cal. Ed. Code § 49073-76. Community college student records (Cal. Ed. Code § 67243) and university student records (Cal. Ed. Code § 76143) are also generally exempt. See Porten v. University of San Francisco, 64 Cal. App. 3d 825, 134 Cal. Rptr. 839 (1976) (recognizing state constitutional right of privacy in student records); see also Rim of the World Unif. Sch. Dist. v. Superior Court, 104 Cal. App. 4th 1393, 129 Cal. Rptr. 2d 11 (2003) (holding federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act preempted state statute requiring disclosure of student expulsion records); but see BRV v. Superior Court, 143 Cal. App. 4th 742, 754-55, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 519 (2006) (holding exemption for pupil records under Section 49061 of the Education Code did not cover a report compiled to investigate complaints of malfeasance alleged against district administrators, even though the report identified students by name and detailed some student acts which resulted in discipline).

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  • Colorado

    Records that are "educational records" under the FERPA cannot be disclosed under the state open records act. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-204(3)(e).

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  • Connecticut

    The names or addresses of any student enrolled in any public school or college may not be disclosed without the student's consent, if eighteen years of age, or the student's parent's consent, if a minor. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-210(b)(11)

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  • Delaware

    Not specified.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    Student records are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements in some cases.  See, e.g., Red & Black Publishing Co. v. Board of Regents, 262 Ga. 848, 427 S.E.2d 257 (1993) (records of the University of Georgia Student Organization Court subject to the Act).  As revised in 2012, the Act exempts any record that would not be subject to disclosure, or the disclosure of which would jeopardize the receipt of federal funds, under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act aka the Buckley Amendment.  O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(37).

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  • Hawaii

    To date, the issue under state law of unauthorized access to student records has not surfaced. The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA") limits disclosure of education records without the student's consent by federal funded educational institutions. See, e.g., Disclosure of Records Relating to Cases Brought Under the Academic Grievance Procedures and Student Code of Conduct, OIP Ltr. Op. No. 95-3 (Feb. 27, 1995) (records associated with cases brought by the University of Hawaii under the Student Code of Conduct and Academic Grievance Procedure are "education records" protected from disclosure under the FERPA).

    No specific mention is made in either Chapters 302A or 304, the latter dealing with the University of Hawaii, regarding access to or confidentiality of student and personal records. But cf. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1137 (1998) (makes a student's dates of attendance available to authorized police officers). Rules of college registrar's generally restrict access to student transcripts to students themselves absent a written request or authorization for release from the student. The UIPA's provisions on intra-agency access presumably govern disclosure to other school officials. State statutory provisions are minimal, at best. Primary and secondary schools are required to maintain a register of students and to forward copies of it to the Department of Education. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1144 (1998). The Department of Education is required to provide student health record forms for immunization and physical examination to schools, private physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and authorized personnel of the Department of Health. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1160 (1998).

    The OIP has addressed the issue of access to student applications. In an opinion to the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, the OIP advised the law school not to disclose the identities of individuals who have applied for admission to Law School without the written consent of such individuals. Identity of Applicants for Admission to the Law School, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 95-10 (May 4, 1995). The OIP opined that public access to such information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Id. Moreover, the OIP cautioned that disclosure of the identities of applicants should be limited to only those individuals within the Law School or University with an official "need to know" in performance of their duties. Id

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  • Idaho

    The Idaho Public records act incorporates federal law under Idaho Code section 74-104(1), which generally ensures privacy for student records under FERPA.

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  • Illinois

    Student records held by a public school, excluding colleges or universities, are exempt from disclosure under Illinois School Student Records Act, but only if and to the extent that the records identify a particular student; de-identified or masked student records are releasable.  Bowie v. Evanston Cmty. Consol. Sch. Dist. No. 65, 128 Ill. 2d 373, 379, 538 N.E.2d 557, 560 (1989) (ordering disclosure of masked standardized test scores for students from certain years, grades and schools).

    Lieber v. Bd. of Trustees of S. Illinois Univ., 176 Ill. 2d 401, 403, 680 N.E.2d 374, 375 (1997) (Freedom of Information Act exemption did not apply to information regarding names and addresses of individuals who had been accepted to attend university); but see Local 1274, Illinois Fed'n of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO v. Niles Twp. High Sch., Dist. 219, 287 Ill. App. 3d 187, 678 N.E.2d 9 (1st Dist. 1997) (names and addresses of school district's enrolled students and their parents were exempt from disclosure under FOIA).

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  • Indiana

    Grade transcripts are confidential under Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-4(a)(7). The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, prohibits the release of student-identifying information by schools that receive federal funds. Thus, such records are also confidential under Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-4(a)(3), which denies access to records which are confidential under federal law.

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  • Iowa

    Governed by Iowa Code § 22.7(1).

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  • Kansas

    Applications, financial statements and other information submitted in connection with applications for student financial assistance are exempt from disclosure. K.S.A. 45-221(a)(17). Other records are presumably open, but may be preempted by federal law.

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  • Kentucky

    Closed, if they fit the definition of "education records" within the meaning of 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(4)(A). Disclosure of such records is prohibited under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”), codified at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and incorporated into the Open Records Act by operation of Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.878(1) (k), which prohibits the dissemination of “public records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by federal law or regulation.” See 10-ORD 150. In 00-ORD-148, the Attorney General held student records “do not have to be related to academic matters to be ‘education records’ under FERPA.” Id. (citing U.S. v. Miami University, 91 F.Supp 1132, 1149 n. 17 (S.D. Ohio 2000)).

    FERPA does not prohibit disclosure of “directory information.” 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1). Directory information includes: “the student's name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student.” Id. at 1232g(a)(5).

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  • Louisiana

    Presumptively open except to the extent the records contain personally identifiable information. Op. Att'y Gen. 93-285; Op. Att'y Gen. 76-186. The names and addresses of students enrolled in public schools and universities are open. Op. Att'y Gen. 93-228; Op. Att'y Gen. 91-73. Privacy issues may be raised, however. See Op. Att'y Gen. 02-0040 (the release of student records could violate the student's right to privacy).

    Videotape of students on school bus, "prepared for use by the [public] . . . school system during the course of its duty to provide transportation to its students," was a public record, despite the fact that it contained personally identifiable student information (to wit, images of the students). Students have no reasonable expectation of privacy on a school bus, particularly one equipped with a video camera, so no balancing test is needed to determine that records are subject to disclosure. State v. Mart, 697 So. 2d 1055 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1997).

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  • Maine

    Confidential, generally.  Access to education records and personally identifiable information about students in public and private schools is governed by federal law, including the United States Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, pursuant to 20-A M.R.S.A. § 6001(1).  A public school may not publish on the internet personal information about its students without prior written approval.  Id. § 6001(2).

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  • Maryland

    Records containing the home address, home phone number, biography, family, physiology, religion, academic achievement, or physical or mental ability of a student are exempt from disclosure, except to the person in interest or an elected or appointed official who supervises the student. § 4-313(a)-(b). A custodian may permit inspection of the home address or home phone number of a student of a public school to an organization of parents, teachers, students or former students of the school; the military; a school board or commission employee confirming the address; a community college representative; or the Maryland Higher Education Commission. § 4-313(c). Disclosures obtained pursuant to § 4-313(c)(1) may not be used for commercial purposes or redisclosed to others who are not authorized to receive the disclosure. § 4-313(c)(2).

    The Maryland Court of Appeals has construed the phrase "educational records" as applied in the PIA and the federal Family Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g). See Kirwan v. The Diamondback, 352 Md. 74, 90-91, 721 A.2d. 196, 204-205 (1998). Educational records are those that relate to the student's academic matters or status as a student, e.g., IQ scores, grades, anecdotal comments made by teachers, rating profiles. 352 Md. at 91, 721 A.2d at 204. They do not include all institutional records containing the student's name. Id. Accordingly, institutional records disclosing the names of those students who received traffic citations, for example, are subject to disclosure under both the PIA and the federal Family Rights and Privacy Act. Id.

    A representative of the State Department of Education may also examine student records as a certifying agent of the State on matters relating to institutional eligibility to participate in federal Veteran's Administration educational programs. 61 Op. Att'y Gen. 340 (1976). Although the name and address of a student constitutes directory information subject to limited disclosure under the PIA, 59 Op. Att'y Gen. 586 (1974), the Family Education and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232(g), supersedes the PIA and permits a student or parent to refuse to allow a student's name and address to be released. Further, the dissemination of degree and credit information on teachers in specific school systems is not authorized. 60 Op. Att'y Gen. 600 (1975).

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  • Michigan

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act provides for access to student records by eligible students and parents, and establishes the privacy of those records.  Michigan State University falls under this statute because it is a recipient of federal funds.  See Kestenbaum v. Michigan State University, 414 Mich. 510, 327 N.W. 2d 783 (1982).

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  • Montana

    Student records are generally private unless the demands of privacy do not clearly exceed the merits of public disclosure.

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  • Nevada

    See Donrey of Nevada, Inc. v. Bradshaw, 106 Nev. 630 (1990).

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  • New Hampshire

    Personal school records of pupils and any records containing unique pupil identification information, which was collected in accordance with RSA 193-E:5 are exempt. RSA 91-A:5, III and VII.

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  • New Mexico

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.  Letters or memorandums that are matters of opinion contained in students’ files are not available to the public. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-1(A).

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  • North Carolina

    “The official record of each student is not a public record as the term “public record” is defined by G.S. 132-1. the official record shall not be subject to inspection and examination as authorized by G. S. 132-6.” G.S. § 115C-402.

    “Records maintained by the University of North Carolina or any constituent institution, or by the Community Colleges System office or any community college, which contain personally identifiable information from or about an applicant for admission to one or more constituent institutions or to one or more community colleges shall be confidential and shall not be subject to public disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132-6(a).” G.S. § 132-1.1

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  • North Dakota

    Student records and medical records are generally confidential. See, e.g., N.D.C.C. § 15-10-17(7); N.D.C.C. § 15.1-24-04; N.D.C.C. § 15.1-26-06; N.D.C.C. § 15.1-34-10; see also the federal Family Educational rights and Privacy Act.

    Records of a school law enforcement unit regarding a student at a school are confidential. N.D.C.C. § 15.1-19-14.

    Patient records at student health services and university system clinics are confidential. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18.16.

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  • Ohio

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits schools from releasing student records.  U.S. v. Miami University, 91 F.Supp.2d 1132 (S.D. Ohio 2000).  But see State ex rel. The Miami Student v. Miami Univ., 79 Ohio St.3d 168, 680 N.W.2d 956 (1997) (holding that disciplinary records were not academic in nature and therefore not exempt under FERPA).

    Ohio’s Student Privacy Act, Ohio Rev. Code § 3319.321, was enacted to bring Ohio law into compliance with FERPA, and it incorporates by reference FERPA’s definition of directory information. See R.C. 3319.321(B)(2)(a); State ex rel. Sch. Choice Ohio, Inc. v. Cincinnati Pub. Sch. Dist., 147 Ohio St. 3d 256, 264, 63 N.E.3d 1183, 1192, 2016-Ohio-5026, ¶ 32 (non-profit corporation was entitled to student-directory information from public school district).

    Federal law defines student directory information:  "Student's name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially-recognized activities and sports, weight and height of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student." 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(5)(A) (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act–FERPA).

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  • Oklahoma

    If kept, statistical information not identified with a particular student and directory information shall be open for inspection and copying. "Directory information" includes a student's name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational institution attended by the student. Any educational agency or institution making public directory information shall give public notice of the categories of information which it has designated as directory information with respect to each student attending the institution or agency and shall allow a reasonable period of time after the notice has been given for a parent to inform the institution or agency that any or all of the information designated should not be released without prior consent of the parent or guardian or the student if the student is eighteen (18) years of age or older. 51 O.S. 24A.16.B

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  • Oregon

    ORS 192.345(29) (formerly 192.501(29)) conditionally exempts the e-mail addresses of students who attend state colleges and universities. ORS 192.398 exempts from disclosure student records “required by state or federal law to be exempt from disclosure.”

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  • Rhode Island

    The parent, legal guardian, or eligible student may personally inspect and review records in existence at the time of the request, obtain a reasonable explanation and interpretation of the records, request to amend the records, have them preserved, and contest any part of them.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-71-3(a).  They also have the right to have the records kept confidential and not released to any other individual, agency or organization without prior written consent of the parent, legal guardian or eligible student, except to the extent that the release of the records is authorized by the provisions of 20 U.S.C. § 1232g or other applicable law or court process.  Id.

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  • South Carolina

    Student educational records are subject to the confidentiality provisions of federal law.  20 U.S.C.A. §1 232g.

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  • South Dakota

    Closed. SDCL §1-27-1.5 (1).

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  • Tennessee

    Records of students in public schools are closed.  T.C.A. § 10-7-504(a)(4); See also T.C.A. §§ 49-1-302; 49-6-3051; 49-6-2313; 49-6-5105

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  • Texas

    Section 552.114 excludes from disclosure information found in a student record at an educational institution. Section 552.026 provides that a governmental body is not required to release “information contained in education records” except in conformity with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). FERPA, Section 1232g(b)(1) & (2), provides for the release of “educational records” and “any personally identifiable information in education records,” other than directory information, only when a parent consents or when one of the specific exceptions applies.  See Fish v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 31 S.W.3d 678, 680 (Tex. App. ––Eastland 2000, pet. denied).

    The federal act gives educational institutions discretion to release “directory information” about students after compliance with federal notice requirements. 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(a)(5). This section defines “directory information” as including a student’s “name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, [and] degrees and awards received.” Even though the federal act gives an educational institution discretion as to what records the institution classifies as “directory,” the Texas Attorney General has advised that the Texas Public Information Act requires a stricter standard. “Any student record which could be treated as directory information under federal law must be accorded that status unless its release would, as a matter of law, constitute an invasion of any person’s right of privacy. Such a standard [is] essentially the same as that of [Section 552.114].” Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-242 (1980) (emphasis added) (advising that student parking permit records should be “directory” information and released after the institution complies with federal notice requirements).

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  • Utah

    a. Records regarding student admission applications are protected, but final admissions decisions are not. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(28).

    b. The following records “which have been developed, discovered, disclosed to, or received by or on behalf of . . . students of the institution” are protected: unpublished lecture and research notes, unpublished manuscripts, creative works in progress, scholarly correspondence, and confidential information contained in research proposal. Id. § 63G-2-305(40).

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  • Vermont

    “Student records, including records of a home study student” are exempt from disclosure.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(11).  “[H]owever, that such records shall be made available upon request under the provisions of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, as may be amended.”  Id.

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  • Virginia

    See Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3705.4 for definition of “scholastic records” and more generally for student records excluded under the Act.

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  • Washington

    The Public Records Act contains an exemption for personal information “in any files maintained for students in public schools.” RCW 42.56.230(1). The exemption is narrow, and limited to information maintained in the collection of individual student files that the school necessarily maintains for the student. Lindeman v. Kelso School District, 162 Wn.2d 196, 172 P.3d 329 (2007) (security video not subject to exemption). Federal law prohibits release of personally identifiable information, other than directory information, from the education records of a student absent written consent from a parent of a student or the eligible student. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g.

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Wyoming

    Not subject to disclosure.

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