FERPA Gives College Students Privacy

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(The University of Pennsylvania campus.  File photo)

(The University of Pennsylvania campus. File photo)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Now that you’ve mortgaged your future to send your kid to college, what right do you have to see information about how she’s handling herself while she’s there? Not much.

An Ivy League college student at Dartmouth was arrested last month after urinating over his fraternity’s balcony onto people below. Good thing he got such good grades in high school to get into an Ivy League school. I’m sure this won’t come back bite him.

Wonder how your kid is doing now that he’s in college? You’ll have to ask him because the college won’t tell you.

In what may be one of Congress’ most naïve laws, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), says that college students are to be considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. Under this law, parents who want to receive a copy of their child’s academic or financial records can do so if their child signs a release form. That’s true even if you’re the one paying for the classes he’s oversleeping.

If you’re really concerned that your child needs help, contact the school’s medical center to see how you can get him help. Getting him to stop behaving immaturely, though, is out of Congress’ and your hands.

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