One of the most significant changes a parent experiences in sending a child to college is the difference in privacy standards for education records at the University. The University of Connecticut is subject to a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that sets privacy standards for student educational records and information. The University of Connecticut FERPA Policy is available at: https://policy.uconn.edu/?p=368.
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help you to understand what FERPA is and how to navigate access to and discussions about student information at the University of Connecticut. Additional information regarding FERPA compliance at the University of Connecticut is available at https://ferpa.uconn.edu.
What records does FERPA cover?
The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions, the FERPA regulations cover access to students’ “education records,” as well as discussions regarding the information contained in those education records. At UConn, education records are defined to include “any records maintained in any form or medium by the University that are directly related to a student.” Almost all information about a student that is held by or for the University of Connecticut will fall under FERPA.
Does FERPA allow me to access student records or discuss information about my student with the University?
With limited exceptions, FERPA requires that a student provide “prior written consent” for the University to share education records or their contents with third parties—including parents. In other words, the University will need your student’s explicit documented permission to provide access to copies of education records or to discuss information about your student with you. To learn more about how the University would acquire this “prior written consent” from your student, visit the “Share My Information” page on the University’s FERPA website.
How can I find out my student’s grades?
Access to student grades is managed by the student at their discretion, even for their parents. Parents may ask their student directly about their grades, but sharing this information is the ultimately their student’s decision. If a student does wish to provide their parent with direct access to view their grades, they can delegate access to certain education records within the Student Administration System under the Share My Information section. For more information on how students can share their education records and information, visit: https://ferpa.uconn.edu/share-my-information.
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, or that will permit University faculty or staff to discuss student information. However, students may provide direct access to certain portions of the education records utilizing a feature called Delegated Access (https://studentadmin.uconn.edu/). Students also have the ability to provide permission for certain offices at UConn to discuss records held or managed by that office and/or services provided to the student through that office utilizing a feature called the FERPA Designee Pin Page. Different processes are required for each of these options: they are not interchangeable. For more information about all of the options available for students to share information and/or records with you, please visit the “Share My Information” page on the University’s FERPA website (https://ferpa.uconn.edu/share-my-information/).
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 transfer to the students once that student begins attending a post-secondary educational institution, even if that student has not yet reached the age of 18. The University may be able to provide you with access to certain records or discuss certain aspects of your student’s records or services provided by the University with you, but to do so, we will need your student’s prior written consent.
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.
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. The University corresponds with students any time their status changes from good standing informing them not only of their status but the conditions attached to their current standing. For more information go to https://scholasticstanding.uconn.edu/. You can, of course, ask your student to keep you informed about their academic performance.
Will I be notified if my son or daughter is hurt or in danger?
If we learn of a critical or life-threatening emergency involving one of our students, we may 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. 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. 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.
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.
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 FERPA 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 Student Conduct within the FERPA Designee Pin Page, Community Standards may speak to the parent or family member about a student’s student conduct matters. The University always reserves the right to request additional written consent from the student at their discretion. Please visit Community Standards for more information.