One of the most significant changes a parent experiences in sending a son or daughter to college is the difference in privacy standards for educational records at the University. The University of Connecticut is subject to a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also called FERPA) that sets privacy standards for student educational records and requires institutions to publish a compliance statement, including a statement of related institutional policies. The University of Connecticut policies are online on UConn’s FERPA website provided by the Registrar. Reference to this policy often raises questions from parents, and we have provided the answers to many of these questions here:
What records does FERPA cover?
The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions, the FERPA regulations give privacy protection to all students’ “education records.” Education records are defined as “those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.” Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files. FERPA does not cover counseling or medical records but other policies do. Please see below for further information about these types of records.
How can I find out my student’s grades?
The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults can be a challenge. They’re not always as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.
Is there a single waiver that my son or daughter can sign so I can have access to all of his or her records or are there separate waivers for different offices?
The University of Connecticut does not have a single waiver that students can sign to give parents access to their records. In carrying out their assigned responsibilities, many offices at UConn collect and maintain information about students.
The University does have a process called the “Online FERPA Privacy Waiver” that allows students to grant permission to university staff to discuss certain aspects of their educational record to designated individuals. The Online FERPA Privacy Waiver includes six categories of information: Financial Aid, Residential Life, Husky One-Card, Academic Information (Office of the Registrar), Community Standards (The Student Code), and Dean of Students Office.
Students may log into the Student Administration System to access the FERPA Privacy Waiver and designate anyone – a parent, a guardian, a significant other, employer etc. to have access to one or any of the categories above. Students will enter the following information into the FERPA Privacy Waiver for each person they designate 1) proper name (first and last name) of the designee 2) assign each designee a 4-digit pass code 3) select what categories of information they wish the designee(s) to have access to.
After the FERPA Privacy Waiver is completed, your student should make sure that each designee knows their 4-digit pass code and what categories of information they have been designated to have access to. When a designee contacts an office they will be asked to provide their name and their 4-digit pass code. Names and pass codes must match what is listed in the Student Administration system in order for University staff to disclose information specific to a student’s educational record.
Even if your student has designated you under the Online FERPA Privacy Waiver, University faculty cannot discuss academic information (e.g., student grades) with you. You will need to have your student sign a separate, specific waiver in order for this to occur. For more information visit UConn’s Family Educational Right and Privacy Act page and visit the “FERPA Forms” section.
UConn FERPA policies are available online. If you desire access to certain information, we recommend that you ask your son or daughter to provide permission to the office that is handling a particular matter.
Why do I have limited access to my son or daughter’s college records especially when I am paying the bills?
Under FERPA, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary and secondary school setting are transferred to students, once a student has turned eighteen, or is attending any post-secondary educational institution. Parents can be given access to their son or daughter’s records if the student authorizes the permission in writing or in connection with the student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid.
How can I make sure the university-related bills are sent to me?
The University uses online billing statements; they are not mailed. Students view their statements through the Student Administration System. Due to FERPA regulations, only individuals authorized by your student may view their financial information. Your student may designate you as an Authorized User to view their fee bill and other financial information. For more information on how to become an Authorized User, please visit the website of the Bursar.
Where can I find out more information about FERPA?
FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA website, with links to FERPA regulations.
Will I be notified if my son or daughter is placed on academic probation?
No. Information about grades and academic standing is provided directly to students. You can, of course, ask your student to keep you informed about his or her academic performance.
Will I be notified if my son or daughter is hurt or in danger?
If we learn of an emergency involving one of our students, we will attempt to notify the student’s parents only in accordance with specific departmental emergency notification policy and procedures. Hospitals and police agencies will also follow their own notification protocols. Students are responsible for submitting their emergency contact information in the Student Administration System.
I’ve heard about a FERPA provision allowing notice to parents when a student violates alcohol or drug laws. What position has the University taken on this new rule?
FERPA regulations authorize—but do not require—disclosure to parents of “the student’s violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.” Currently, the University of Connecticut will notify parents/guardians of students under the age of 21 who are found responsible for violations of the University’s alcohol and/or drug policies. This notification will typically be in writing from the Office of Community Standards. If the parent(s) are aware of the incident, the University may not send a notification letter as these circumstances meet the notification standard. For more information about Community Standards and parental notification please visit their website.
Will I be informed if my son or daughter is treated at Student Health Services?
Not normally, if your son or daughter is over 18. State and Federal laws preclude the University from sharing student health information with third parties, including parents, without the student’s consent. Student Health Services routinely encourages students who are very ill to let their parents know the situation, and to let the provider contact the parent. However on occasion, in cases that are critical to life safety, UConn may contact parents without or against the permission of the student. If your son or daughter is under 18, the State and Federal laws are different, and UConn will contact parents, except in cases of family planning, sexually transmitted disease, and substance abuse treatment, per state laws. Please visit Student Health Services’ website for more information.
Will I be informed if my son or daughter is seeing a counselor at Counseling and Mental Health Services?
In most cases, no. State laws and professional ethical codes preclude the University from sharing student counseling records with third parties, including parents, without the student’s consent. There are important policy reasons supporting these confidentiality requirements, including the proven therapeutic benefits associated with encouraging students to talk openly and candidly with a counselor—without fear their conversations will be reported to others. Confidentiality, of course, is not absolute. It can be broken (and parents notified, as appropriate) if counselors determine that a student poses an imminent danger to self, or to an identifiable third party. Please visit Counseling and Mental Health Services for more information.
How will I know if my son or daughter is subject to University disciplinary action?
As the family member of a student at UConn, you may have numerous questions and concerns about the process that addresses student conduct. The Office of Community Standards administers this process, and they have general information about the Responsibilities of Community Life: The Student Code on their website. The Community Standards staff is always available to discuss general information about the student conduct process. It is important to know that federal law prohibits Community Standards from releasing any information about a student’s involvement in the student conduct process without the student’s permission, even to family members. If a student has designated his/her parent or family member as a FERPA designee for Community Standard in the online FERPA Privacy Waiver located in the Student Administration System, Community Standards can speak to the parent or family member about a student’s student conduct matters. Please visit Community Standards for more information.