Federal Court Strikes Down Obstacle to Student FOIA Requests

A federal appeals court has ruled that government agencies must give students who pursue Freedom of Information Act requests favorable fee treatment. The case involved a Ph.D. student who was charged $900 to process a FOIA request. The Department of Defense contended that students are not entitled to the favorable fee standards of “educational institutions." The D.C. Circuit disagreed and ruled today that “[s]tudents who make FOIA requests to further their coursework or other school-sponsored activities are eligible for reduced fees under FOIA because students, like teachers, are part of an educational institution.” In 2011, EPIC criticized the practice of charging students extra fees for FOIA requests, calling the government’s position “absurd.”


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