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Use and Release of Student Information

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 provides 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.

After a student turns eighteen or attends an institution of higher education (a college or university), the rights of access to the student's records transfer to the student. This means that all academic information regarding a 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.

A student can give permission for a third party to access their records by filing a Student Consent for Release of Records Form (PDF) with the Admissions and Records office.


What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also referred to as FERPA or 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.

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 them. 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 FERPA 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 parenting, parents might see this as an important opportunity for meaningful dialogue with the student. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the US Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA regulations.

If I'm paying for my child's education, then why can't I get a copy of their records?

FERPA states that access to a college student's records must be granted by the student.

My child signed a release form. Can you email a copy of their transcript?

As a matter of policy, the college does not release private information over the phone or by email.

My child signed the form. Why didn't I receive a copy of their 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 child 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, then it is up to them to decide whether and how to discuss the issues.

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, then an educational institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals."

Where can I learn more about FERPA?

The US Department of Education is responsible for overseeing FERPA. Visit the Department of Education's FERPA website for more information.