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FERPA and Why It Pertains to You
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Access to student records, grades,
progress reports, financial information, etc

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son’s  or daughter's education records. This right is limited solely to the student unless the student has signed  a written release.  The exception is if records are subpoenaed by the court.

Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student's education record. This information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s).

You can find specific FERPA guidelines on the US Dept. of Education website.

Students receive a form in the summer from the Academic Affairs Office on which they can grant parents/guardians permission to discuss various things with college offices, including financial, disciplinary issues and academic records.

Crisis situations/Emergencies

If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, 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." Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.