FERPA: What Parents of College Students Should Know
Education attorney and National Association of College and University Attorneys member Paul Lannon spoke with U.S. News & World Report about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This law allows college students to make decisions about what their parents know about their grades and other educational information. Mr. Lannon commented that some parents find it difficult to accept this significant change because they feel their child is not prepared to handle this responsibility.
"Where we're most likely to get into a legal fight is when the parents want information that the students don't want to give," he explained. "Very often, it's health-related. It can be pregnancy, or an LGBTQ issue or a transgender issue... Students are desperate that their parents not know, especially if it's related to a drug or alcohol offense, a sexual offense, an act of violence or an academic offense like plagiarism."
Mr. Lannon suggested that parents should learn as much as possible about a college's specific FERPA policy before their child enrolls.
"Each college or university is required to issue an annual notice, sometimes called the 'annual privacy notice' or the 'annual FERPA notice,'" he said. "These notices appear on the college's website, spelling out the college's FERPA policy on disclosing information."