FERPA: Privacy of Records

What is FERPA?

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This legislation protects the privacy of student records and regulates how information is utilized.

Once a student turns 18, or attends school beyond secondary school, the rights of access to the student’s records transfer to the student. This means that all academic information regarding your college student goes directly to the student unless the student has given specific, written permission to release that information to someone else. 

Release of student records at Oregon State University is bound by the federal law (FERPA), the Oregon Revised Statutes and by the Oregon Administrative Rules.

Examples of student education records protected under FERPA include:

  • class rosters
  • student course schedule/enrollment in courses
  • graded assignments (in any medium)
  • emails exchanged with a student concerning their academic progress (i.e. in a class, as an advisee)
  • card swipe data (e.g. in advising offices, at campus events)
  • signed ESET data
  • field site/internship evaluations for experiences done for course credit
  • advising notes
  • clicker data
  • student registration holds
  • student ID photos

*Students' FERPA rights begin when they are considered a student at OSU. The institutional definition of a student is when an individual has registered for START or has registered for classes, whichever comes first.

What does FERPA mean for you as a college parent or family member?

Generally FERPA rules mean that student academic information such as grades or academic standing (GPA, academic transcript, academic warning, academic probation or discipline records) will be given to the student and not to the parents. College students are considered responsible adults who may determine who will receive information about them. College representatives are prohibited from discussing information about a student’s academic record with parents. OSU has a Student Consent to Release Information Form, which students can sign allowing records to be released to parents or college representatives, such as faculty members, to discuss records with parents. Your student may, or may not, wish to sign this release.

We understand that college parents and family members often feel frustrated by FERPA regulations. They feel that they need, and should have, access to student information. Remember that college students are working toward increased independence and responsibility. Allowing them to determine who receives their academic information is a part of that growing independence. Some students handle this responsibility wisely and some may struggle with it. As with many aspects of the college experience, increased communication between college parents and college students will make the experience go smoothly for everyone.