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Access to Student Records by Parents
The Family Educational rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records. It also provided control over the release of educational record information. The original intent of this legislation was to keep elementary and high school records private and to give parents access to their child's school records.
Once a student turns eighteen OR attends an institution of higher education (college/university), the rights of access to the student's records transfer to the student. This means that all academic information regarding your college student goes directly to the student unless the student has given specific, written permission to release that information to someone else.
While parents understandably have an interest in their child's academic progress, they are not automatically granted access to a student's records without written consent of the student. Parents are encouraged to consult with the student if academic information is needed. Your child may give permission for a third party to access his/her records by filing a Student Consent for Release of Records form.
Questions about Access to Student Records:
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student education records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA regulations.
Does this mean that I have no way to find out my child's grades?
Because FERPA legislation prevents parents from finding out student grades and academic standing directly from the school, the best way to find out how your student is doing is to ask him/her. The sharing of student academic information with parents becomes a family issue rather than an institutional one. It is a decision that families should discuss and make together. Perhaps one of the benefits of the FERPA rule is that it provides an additional opportunity for parents to communicate with their college student about their expectations and the student's responsibilities. Rather than seeing this legislation as a barrier to good college parenting, parents might see this as an important opportunity for meaningful dialogue with the student.
If I'm paying for my child's education, why can't I get a copy of his records?
FERPA requires that access to a college student's records must be granted by approval of the student.
My student signed a release form. Can you email a copy of her transcript?
As a matter of policy, the college does not release private information over the phone or by email.
My student signed the form. Why didn't I receive a copy of his grades for the fall semester?
The college doesn't automatically send information to third parties designated by the student. The Student Consent form is currently used for one-time only requests and does not carry forward into the future.
Will I be contacted if my student is sick or hurt? What if my child is in academic trouble, or facing disciplinary action?
In most cases, the college will not contact you or provide medical, academic, or disciplinary information without your child's permission. As a general guideline, if your child is able to communicate about the situation, it is up to him/her to decide whether and how to discuss the issues. If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institutions determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals".
Where can I find out more about FERPA?
The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for overseeing FERPA. See the Department's website for additional information at http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/.