What is FERPA, and How Does it Affect You as a Parent?
You’ve raised and educated your student, gotten them to University, and are footing the bills. That gives you the right to know what and how your student is doing, right? Actually, since FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) passed, the answer is “No.”
When your student turns 18 or enters college, all rights related to his/her educational records transfer to him/her. Any communication regarding grades, finances, or conduct must be solely between the student and the university unless the student grants permission to the University to release that information to a third party. Students do this by signing a FERPA form and renewing it each year.
Through a signed FERPA form, a student can choose to release information (or restrict it) regarding academic progress, financial status, residential life, and conduct reports to a parent or guardian listed on the form. He/she may also allow the University to publish certain personal information on its websites or printed materials, or to share his/her information with other institutions in which the student is interested.
Parents whose child is under 25 and still listed as a dependent on their parents’ tax returns may request access – formally, with proper documentation – to their student’s records. In the case of danger of harm to the student or others, or a student under 21 violating the University’s code of conduct, the University may choose to disclose the information to the student’s parents. Information may be shared with health and safety officials as well as state and local authorities when there is an emergency or legal action.
Because of the seriousness and scope of the FERPA document, it is important to discuss which information you would like to have and how much information your student would allow to be disclosed to you. As you work toward an agreement, you bolster your student’s self-confidence and build together toward their academic success.