Laws & Guidance GENERAL
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

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  1. How is a FOIA request processed?
  2. How long does it take to receive records?
  3. What types of information can I request from the Department of Education?
  4. What records are not accessible under the FOIA?
  5. How do I make a FOIA request to the Department of Education?
  6. Are there any charges for obtaining records under FOIA?
  7. Who is eligible for a fee waiver and how do they apply?
  8. In what formats can I receive records??
  9. Are there any records that are automatically denied?
  10. If the Department denies my request can I appeal?
  11. How do I check the status of my request?
  12. Can I make a telephone request for records?
  13. Who can I contact with additional questions?

1. How is a FOIA request processed?

When a FOIA request is received by the FOIA Service Center it is reviewed for content to ensure requested documents are held by the Department of Education. It is then assigned to a FOIA Liaison Officer, who collaborates with a FOIA coordinator in the office(s) housing the requested documents. All identified documents are reviewed and exempted information is redacted. All responsive documents, regardless of their redaction status, go through a secondary review process by a FOIA Analyst and compiled to be sent to the requester.

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2. How long does it take to receive records?

This depends on the requested information and the amount of time necessary to find and review the records. The Department of Education is allotted 20 business days to respond to FOIA requests. However, the release of records may take longer. If the situation qualifies, the Department of Education will notify the requester of a 10-day extension to process the request.

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3. What types of information can I request from the Department of Education?

ED handles many different programs and offices. FOIA requests include information found in documents, emails, audio or visual recordings, memos and more. When possible, frequently requested documents and records of great public interest are posted online to allow the public access. Those can be found in the in the FOIA Reading Room, found here

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4. What records are not accessible under the FOIA?

The federal FOIA does not provide access to records held by state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. This includes, but is not limited to, school transcripts, school district records of attendance or an individual’s criminal record. In addition, records regarding an individual, such as student loan information, are not covered under FOIA but are accessible to said individual, or a third party at their written consent, under the Privacy Act. More information regarding this can be found here.

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5. How do I make a FOIA request to the Department of Education?

Complete the FOIA Request form located here. Be as specific as possible with regard to names, dates, places, events, subjects, etc. If known, please include designations or descriptions for the records you want, including grant, case or serial number. This will help accelerate the process of locating the information.

Please send the information, complete with your contact details, to one of the following:

Send FOIA requests via email to: EDFOIAManager@ed.gov

Send requests and appeals via fax to: (202) 401-0920

Send FOIA requests via mail to:

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Management
Privacy, Information, & Records Management Services
400 Maryland Avenue, SW, LBJ 2E320
Washington, DC 20202-4536
ATTN: FOIA Public Liaison

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6. Are there any charges for obtaining records under FOIA?

Yes. There are charges for the search, review and duplication of Federal records, which vary based on the requester. For more information on fees and requester categories, click here.

If the charges exceed $250, or if there is a history of non-payment of assessed fees, the Department will request payment in advance.

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7. Who is eligible for a fee waiver and how do they apply?

Under FOIA law, certain requesters qualify for a fee waiver. This includes, but is not limited to, members of the media and educational/institutions whose primary interest rests in educating the public on the information requested. Requesters must explicitly request a fee waiver and provide support for their waiver request.

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8. In what formats can I receive records??

The Department of Education typically provides requested documents in two formats, email attachment and CD. Although email offers a quicker delivery process, a large volume of requested documents may have to be formatted onto CDs and sent through the mail.

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9. Are there any records that are automatically denied?

Yes. In accordance to FOIA law, there are nine (9) categories of automatically exempted records. For a list of exemptions, click here.

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10. If the Department denies my request can I appeal?

Yes, you may appeal your request to the Department of Education. The process requires that a Department official, higher in rank than the original response official, review the factual evidence for the denial and either uphold the denial or reverse the decision (partially or wholly) and prepare an appeal response. If the decision of the Department is to uphold the denial, the Education Office of General Counsel must concur with that decision.

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11. How do I check the status of my request?

Using the FOIA/PA request number listed in your original Acknowledgement of Request letter, refer to the Status Update Spreadsheet. If you have additional questions you can contact us by calling (202) 401-8365 or sending an email to EDFOIAManager@ed.gov. Be sure to include your name and the FOIA request number.

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12. Can I make a telephone request for records?

Yes. However, the requester must follow up all telephonic communication with a written request. A written request documents exactly what is being requested and provides a record of the request. You may submit requests by fax or e-mail without submitting a follow-up written request.

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13. Who can I contact with additional questions?

We recommend calling the FOIA Requester Service Center at (202) 401-8365 or sending an email to EDFOIAManager@ed.gov. Additional contact details can be found here.

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Last Modified: 11/06/2014