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 (click on “Granting Access to Private Records” at the bottom of the page).  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

How can I get a copy of my student's grades?

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.

My student signed a release form. Can you email a copy of her transcript?

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

Does the release form grant me access to my son or daughter's medical and counseling records?

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 Student Health and Wellness 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.

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 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.

Isn't there a FERPA provision that colleges and universities can contact parents if a student violates alcohol or drug policies?

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.

Where can I find out more about FERPA?

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/.