FERPA for Parents
When your child was in elementary and high school, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gave you and your child rights to access and control your child’s educational records. Now that your child is in college, these same laws transfer ownership of the records directly to your child(ren).
According to FERPA, college students are considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. While parents understandably have an interest in a student’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. Your child may give permission for a third party to access his/her records by filing a FERPA Student Consent Form, or by providing PAWS access by establishing a designate account. By establishing designate accounts, students can grant permission to:
- View Grades;
- View “To Do” Items (indicates if there are any missing items from a student’s admission, financial aid or graduation file);
- View financial aid awards and billing statements, and;
- Make a payment.
Questions About Access to Student Records
The quickest, easiest way for you to receive information about your child’s grades, financial statement, or other student information is for your child to provide it to you. Students can look information up online, print it off, and give or email a copy to their parents. Student records are available on their PAWS account.
As a matter of policy, the university does not release private information over the phone or by email.
FERPA regulations protect a student’s “education records,” which include grades, finances, and discipline records. Physical and mental health records are covered by other university policies, federal law, and professional ethics. In general, professionals working in these areas will not release student information except in emergency situations. Your son or daughter can choose to release information from these records to a third party, but they may want to release information on a case-by-case basis. They can talk to the practitioner or the records office in the Norris Health Center related to medical or counseling records; to the Dean of Students Office for discipline records; or to a hall director or housing staff member in the University Housing office.
In most cases, the university will not contact you or provide medical, academic, or disciplinary information without your child’s permission. In the case of an extreme emergency, where the health of your son or daughter is in serious jeopardy, or if there is a concern that he/she poses a threat to him or herself or to someone else, the university will contact you. As a general guideline, if your child is able to communicate about the situation, it is up to him/her to decide whether and how to discuss the issues.
FERPA regulations allow, but do not require, higher education institutions to provide notice to parents when a student violates federal, state or local laws related to alcohol or drugs. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee policy states that we can release this information to parents of children under the age of 21.
The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for overseeing FERPA. See the Department’s Web site for additional information: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/.