Ask the FERPA Professor

February 6, 2023
  • FERPA Professor
  • FERPATop
cartoon figure reminiscent of Einstein stands in front of a chalkboard with the board "FERPA" written on it

Dear FERPA Professor,

I have an important question regarding FERPA. It was brought up in a meeting at a previous conference that institutions are required to have written authorization from the student to allow the college to talk about their educational record – if they bring someone with them (such as a parent) to an on-campus appointment (such as meeting with an Academic Advisor).

For example, if John Smith brings their mother along with them to an Academic Advising appointment during their sophomore year of college, John Smith must sign a release listing their mother in order for the Academic Advisor to have a conversation with the student with their mother in the room.
The majority of post-secondary schools do not do this, so I was wondering if this is truly a requirement, and if so, are there any best practices for implementing this regulation without causing additional steps for students and staff?

Thank you for your time.
Ms. Binde

Dear Ms. Binde,

§ 99.30 of the  FERPA regulations requires that an eligible student provide a signed, dated, written consent prior to information from the student's education records being disclosed, unless the conditions of one of the exceptions to signed consent found at § 99.31 are met.  In the example you provide, one of the exceptions, § 99.31(a)(8), could possibly apply.  This exception permits the disclosure of information from a student's education record to the parent(s) if the student is claimed on the parent's Federal tax return.  Absent such documentation, then a signed consent from the student would be required prior to information from education records being shared with any party (parents, spouse, family member, etc.) other than the school official.

I hope this is helpful in answering your questions.  You can find the above-cited regulations on pages 159 and 161 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

The FERPA Professor

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