How FERPA Impacts You
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) was designed to protect the educational records of students. The original purpose of this law was to keep elementary and secondary school records private and to provide parents with access to their child’s academic records. Educational institutions that receive federal funding are obligated to comply with FERPA. Prior to a student reaching the age of 18, or attending a post-secondary school, FERPA provides parents with the right to control disclosure of educational records, review their child’s educational record, request amendment of misleading or inaccurate information within the educational records and file a complaint regarding non-compliance of FERPA with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S Department of Education.
When a student reaches the age of 18, or enters a post-secondary institution, the rights of access to education records is transferred to the student. Parents do not have access to student data unless the student provides consent through proper university channels. Students are given the option to release their records, but it is within their rights not to sign the waiver. Even if a student signs a FERPA waiver, parents must still make a request for grades and other academic information, as they will not be automatically sent to them. Educational records include student course schedules, grades, class lists, disciplinary records, grade point averages, financial records and payroll records. FERPA legislation prevents parents from receiving their student’s academic information, so the best way to find out how your student is doing is to ask them. An open line of communication between parents and students is encouraged. This allows students to remain aware of their parents’ expectations as they gain new responsibilities.
There are conditions in which student education records may be disclosed without consent of the student. University officials with legitimate educational interests are allowed access to student records. Additionally, educational records will also be disclosed to comply with a judicial order or subpoena. To protect the health and safety of the student and others, records may be released without written consent if a student is considered a threat to himself/herself or others. Educational records may also be disclosed to parents in cases of drug or alcohol violations if the student is under the age of 21.
College students are working towards having increased independence and responsibility and having access to their education information is a part of that responsibility. It can be easy for parents to feel frustrated by FERPA regulations, but is important to know that communication with your student will lead to a smooth transition into college and a better relationship between parent and student. Additional information about FERPA guidelines can be found on the website for the U.S Department of Education.