Ask Professor FERPA: Policy language change OK?

Hello Professor FERPA,

I have a very specific question for you – my President encouraged me to change some language in our FERPA Policy regarding the release of student information to parents/legal guardians, in specific situations. I was wondering if the following bit of language would be FERPA-compliant: “The College reserves the right to contact parent(s) or guardian(s) of dependent students who are experiencing difficulty with satisfactory academic or work program progress, or difficulty with the campus conduct code and/or the campus disciplinary system.”


Budding Regulatory Registrar


Dear Bud,

The college could have such a statement and follow such a practice, so long as the specific conditions for disclosure to the parent or guardian of “dependent students” found in §99.31(a)(8) are met. The definition of a "dependent" is contained within section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. You would therefore need to document that the student is indeed claimed on the parent’s tax return prior to any such release of education records.

There are sample forms on pages 134-135 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide which could be used by students to indicate their dependency status.

If you have more questions, feel free to pass them along.


Professor FERPA