Students, parents, and other caregivers often have questions about FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Let us explain...
FERPA is a federal act designed to protect the privacy of college students by limiting access to their student records. Once a student enrolls in college (please note that FERPA does not apply until a student begins taking classes), he or she can determine what types of information parents and other caregivers can access. This information falls into three basic categories: financial records (i.e. bills and financial aid information), educational records (i.e. grades and class schedules), and student life records (i.e. disciplinary actions).
Many students may choose to give caregivers permission to access some or all of this information. If a student is not a tax dependent and chooses not to give his or her caregivers FERPA permissions, Georgetown employees cannot share any of the student’s records with the caregivers. However, if a college student is a tax dependent, colleges and universities can share appropriate information with the person who claims the student as a dependent on his or her taxes.
Students can set their own FERPA permissions, and they can change these permissions at any time. At Georgetown College, students can update FERPA permissions by accessing the Georgetown College Portal. On the Portal homepage, there is an option to change FERPA permissions under the tab “My Information.” From there, students can determine levels of access for parents and guardians, or they can add additional individuals to their FERPA permissions, such as a grandparent or other caregiver. As noted above, though, students cannot deny permission to any person who claims that student as a tax dependent.
If a parent or other friend or family member calls Georgetown College with a question about a student, please be aware that the College employee will need to check your student’s FERPA permissions before answering any questions. Unlike high school, if a student has chosen to deny a person access to his or her educational records (and is not a tax dependent), employees will not be able to answer any questions about grades or other records. If, as a parent, you wish to access this information, make sure you communicate that to your student. However, it is ultimately his or her choice to grant or revoke FERPA permissions.
If you have any questions about FERPA or who has FERPA permissions, please reach out to our Registrar's office by emailing or calling 502-863-8024. For the full policy, please see the undergraduate catalog at the Registrar's website.