The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects educational records privacy. It also establishes the rights of students to review their educational records. Originally, it kept elementary and high school records private for parents.
Once a student turns eighteen or attends a post secondary school, access rights to the student’s records transfer to the student. The rule applies unless the student gives specific, written permission to release academic information to someone else. The exception to this law occurs if parents document in writing that the student is claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes. A recent tax may be requires as a supporting document.
What does FERPA mean for college parents?
Generally, FERPA rules insure student academic information such as grades or academic standing (GPA, academic transcripts, academic warnings, academic probation, or discipline records) are given to students instead of parents. College representatives can’t discuss the student’s academic record with parents.
Most colleges have a waiver form students sign for releasing records to parents or college representatives such as faculty members. Your student may, or may not, wish to sign this release.
College Parents of America created an easy to use form that you can download here. As an alternative, parents may acquire power of attorney over their student as proof of FERPA consent.
Without filing forms, how do find out your student’s grades?
Ask them. Sharing student academic information with parents is a family discussion issue rather than an institutional issue. Perhaps one of the benefits of the FERPA rule is an additional opportunity for a family chat about academic expectations and the student’s responsibilities.
If your college student signs a waiver, are grades automatically sent to you?
If a student signs a FERPA waiver, the college can release academic information upon request. Nothing is sent automatically.
Do FERPA rules prevent college employees from seeing my student’s records?
There are some individuals who have access to your student’s records for professional reasons, such as school officials with legitimate educational interest. Legitimate educational interest applies to transfer school employees or government employees auditing or evaluating the college, as well. Directory information that is less restricted includes name, address, phone number, varsity sport played, e-mail, major, dates of attendance, degrees received, or enrollment status.
Are there any exceptions to the restrictions limiting the release of student information?
There is a health and safety exception to FERPA regulations. If a student has a health or safety concern to share information or the student a threat to themselves or to others, information may be shared with parents. A school may also disclose to parents any violation of the use or possession of drugs or alcohol by students under twenty-one.
An important note: It’s allowed but not require to release safety information to parents. School policies vary widely regarding parental notification policies.
College parents often feel frustrated by FERPA regulations. College Parents of America recommends families plan for dealing with student information.
Request information sparingly. College students are working toward increased independence and responsibility. Not getting in the way of them determining who receives their academic information is part of their growing independence. Some students handle this responsibility wisely and some may struggle with it. As with many aspects of the college experience, increased communication between college parents and college students eases the experience go smoothly for everyone.