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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended is a federal law which is designed to protect the privacy of and limit access to the educational records of students. This means that institutions generally must withhold such information from parents and others who believe their relationship with the student entitles them to have the information, sometimes even on occasions when the student prefers the information to be released. As a result, parents, guardians, or spouses ask why they cannot have information about a student's grades, financial obligations, or standing with the University.
Education records generally covered by federal privacy laws include grades, housing information, medical treatment (including hospitalization), enrollment and attendance information, financial status, results of disciplinary proceedings, etc.
If a student has not given permission to release information to someone, the University generally CANNOT release the information under the provisions of FERPA. The University is able to release information IF there is proof of the student's status as a dependent under the Internal Revenue Service Code for the period covered on file. However, tax returns on file with the University cover the preceding year; often the proof is out of date and may no longer be applicable.
Students are asked to complete a FERPA: Share Confidential Info Request form. When it is initialed, signed, and returned to the Office of the Registrar, the University will be able to disclose information and respond to inquiries from the designated individuals. The signed release forms will be kept on file in the Registrar's Office. Students may revise the form's designations at any time during the four years. The form is kept on file and remains in effect until revoked by the student in writing.
Discuss this important issue before a situation arises when the release of information must be determined by law rather than the wishes of the student. Putting permissions in writing enables the University to respond appropriately to students' wishes and meet legal obligations.