The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records by requiring prior written consent before disclosing personally identifiable information to a third party such as a student's parents. This federal law applies to all colleges and universities that receive funding from the federal government.
We encourage parents to consult with their students in planning for access to education records.
When your student was still in elementary and high school, FERPA provided both you and your child with 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 son or daughter. While you as a parent certainly have an interest in your student's academic progress, you no longer have automatic access to your student's academic records without written consent of the student. Your student may grant you permission to access his/her records by submitting USD's FERPA release of information form.
Even though you may be paying for your student's education, FERPA considers records created and maintained by the financial aid office to be education records and may not be disclosed without the student's consent. These records may include the following:
- Financial records or student's account
- Records relating to federal student aid funds
- Federal work-study payroll
- Satisfactory Academic Progress documentation
- Verification documents
- Cost of attendance documents including any adjustment documentation
- Any materials received about the student from the student or student's parents or records used to make decisions about the student
- Records of work-study students are all also considered education records and are protected by FERPA.
Your student may provide you with written permission to access his/her financial records by submitting the following form as provided by the USD Office of Financial Aid.
School disciplinary records are protected by FERPA and may not be disclosed without the student's consent. The final result of a disciplinary proceeding, however, may be disclosed. At the written request of the student, a student disciplinary record may be released to parents or other third party individuals who request such information.
Drug & Alcohol Policy Violations
FERPA permits colleges and universities to inform parents of drug and alcohol policy violations committed by their students. University of South Dakota personnel understand that parents are partners in responding to issues of substance abuse. As a result, it is the policy of the university to notify parents or guardians in the event of an alcohol and/or drug policy violation by their student if the student is under 21 years of age.
FERPA applies to education records and does not cover counseling or medical records. However, other laws and professional ethics do. In general, professionals working in the medical and counseling fields will not release student information except in emergency situations.
Consult Your Student
As a parent, the easiest and quickest way to receive information on your child's grades, finances and other education records is to have your student supply it directly to you. Even if your student grants you written permission to access his/her education records, the university does not automatically send this information to parents or other designated third parties. If you have received permission to review education records from your student, you will need to provide a written request for a copy of the desired information by sending a letter or fax with your signature.