The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted to protect the privacy of educational records. But did you know, when a student reaches their college years, the parent no longer has rights to the students educational information? The FERPA law gives all protection to the student as an individual. Here’s what you need to know to help prepare your college finances for FERPA.
According to the United States Department of Education, “The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.” What is important to note, is that these rights are transferred to the student after high school. The US Department of Education asserts, that “FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.” While FERPA is designed to protect the family, it also creates barriers for the parents of college-aged students. College academics and college finances are two areas where FERPA may create these barriers.
FERPA and Your College Academics
College academics are an important part of college life for the student. But they are just as important to the parent. Many parents, who are paying for college, like to know how their students are performing academically. Others parents like to be a source of encouragement in their student’s academic life. Whichever the case, parents need to be involved in their student’s academic information. FERPA restricts this information. In fact, without permission from the student, this information is not accessible by the parent.
Luckily, FERPA does allow the student to grant permission for the parent to have access to their academic and financial information. The US Department of Education states, “Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record.” A sample of this document is found on the US Department of Education website. Make sure to check with your college to see if they have a specific form that needs to be on file.
FERPA and Your College Finances
Finaid.org explains the ways in which FERPA affects college finances. They state that “records created and maintained by the financial aid office are considered to be education records and may not be disclosed without the student’s consent.” According to FERPA, the parent(s) should have no access to this information. This information may include Federal loan information, student accounts, cost of attendance information, and even financial payment information. These are important financial areas where both the student and parent(s) need to monitor. This will help evaluate and develop your financial plan for college.
Most of the academic and financial information is now given through the student’s college portal. Some colleges allow the parent to have a sign-on to this student portal after permission has been granted. Each college will have different methods for handling the FERPA permissions. What is important is that you as the parent obtain the proper permission so that you can have access to this vital information. No one wants your student to succeed academically or financially more than you do.