FERPA: A Guide for Parents

Understanding your student’s privacy rights

In the course of an academic year, parents, understandably, wish to be informed of their student’s progress. Your student’s privacy rights are governed by a law that is commonly called FERPA or the “Buckley Amendment”. The following guide provides answers to commonly asked questions about the law and College policies.

  1. What is FERPA?
    FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended. It is the keystone federal privacy law prohibiting disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records – even to parents – without prior written consent. While a student is attending elementary and secondary school, and is under 18, parents/legal guardians exercise FERPA rights on behalf of the student. These rights transfer directly to the student upon his/her enrollment in a college or university, even if that student enrolls prior to reaching the age of 18. In accordance with FERPA, faculty, staff and administrators may not be able to provide information concerning a student to a parent/guardian without the student’s permission.
  2. What constitutes the student’s consent?
    Consent must be in writing and must specify the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure, and the party to whom the disclosure may be made.
  3. How can I obtain information about my student’s academic status, including grades?
    Most students come to college having developed a mutually respectful method of communication with their parents/guardian regarding their educational goals, challenges, and progress. During the college years most students have periodic discussions with their parents/guardian about their academic status, possibly including their grades. Bellin College students may sign Academic Release Form permitting parental access to their academic records. Ultimately students choose whether, and to whom, to disclose such information and the College will honor the students’ choices on this matter.
  4. I’m paying the tuition and taking care of all the matters pertaining to financial aid but both the financial aid counselor and the bursar said they couldn’t release any information. What do I do?
    Bellin College distributes a Financial Aid Information Release at all new student orientation meetings. The form is also available on the website under Financial Aid Forms. If your student wishes to have you take care of all their financial matters they will need to complete the release and submit it to the Financial Aid Office.
  5. Will I be notified if my student is charged with an offense through the College’s disciplinary procedures?
    Disciplinary records, with few exceptions, may not be disclosed without the student’s consent.
  6. Will I be notified if my student is charged with a drug or alcohol violation?
    When the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance violates laws, rules, or policies, FERPA allows, but does not require, disclosure to parents of students under the age of 21.
  7. Will I be notified if my student seeks counseling or is treated by Bellin Health Services?
    Not normally. In addition to FERPA, state laws and professional ethical codes preclude the College from routinely sharing medical information and counseling records with third parties – which includes parents – without the patient’s consent. However, FERPA does allow a parent/guardian to be notified if the College determines that the student’s behavior poses a health or safety emergency.
  8. Will I be notified if my student is hurt or injured on campus or at a clinical site?
    If the injury is of a severe or life threatening nature, a parent will be notified by either the hospital or the College or both. If the injury is not of a severe nature, the overseeing faculty or staff member will strongly encourage the student to inform a parent of the situation.
  9. Will I be notified by Bellin College if my student is hurt or injured off-campus?
    If the college learns of an emergency involving a student, a parent will be notified under the same conditions as on-campus occurrences. Again, if the injury is not severe the College will strongly encourage the student to inform a parent of the situation. Hospitals and law enforcement agencies always follow their own notification protocols.
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