Students: court orders government agencies to offer educational discount on FOIA requests

The Freedom of Information Act specifies that government agencies must give a discount to "educational institutions" when they file requests, but for years, agencies led by the Department of Defense have argued that this discount only applies to faculty, not students, who would have to pay full rate even though they generally have less money to begin with.

The DC Appeals Court just ruled that this is wrong, and says that government agencies must extend the educational discount to students — meaning that it's time for the students of America to get cracking on their FOIA requests. I am fond of Muckrock, which makes it dead simple to file requests, and even fight back when agencies dispute or deny those requests.

The court cautions that its take on the "educational institution" price break is not meant to be read as FOIA: Student Edition and used by attendees to obtain cheap documents for personal or commercial use. It says the government can take steps to prevent abuse by requiring things like copies of student IDs, letters from instructors, etc. That being said, the court is similarly not granting agencies the power to follow the letter of ruling while doing everything they can to break its spirit.

We caution agencies against requiring hard-to-obtain verifications that will have the practical effect of deterring or turning away otherwise valid student FOIA requests.

Appeals Court Tells Government It Must Extend Educational Institution FOIA Fee Price Break To Students
[Tim Kushing/Techdirt]

(Image: Freedom of Information Act FOIA dumped, Democracy Chronicles, CC-BY)