Know the Facts about FERPA

Primary tabs

As we approach the end of the spring 2015 semester, grades are top of mind for students and parents alike. Final grades affect many critical aspects of a student’s academic standing — ranging from meeting prerequisites for upcoming classes to financial aid and graduation eligibility. The stakes are high.

Seeking information on their student’s grades, many anxious parents reach out to faculty and staff with questions related to student records; however, most of this information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

While the Office of the Registrar is typically the first line of defense for the onslaught of questions from anxious students and parents, anyone on campus can receive an inquiry and should be prepared to answer these tough questions appropriately and in line with Georgia Tech policies. Are you ready?

Take this true-false quiz to gauge your readiness. As you answer the questions, keep in mind that some of them may, in a real-world scenario, necessitate follow-up questions before a full accurate answer could be given. But, for the purpose of this quiz, focus on the question as it is presented.

1. I claim my daughter on my income tax. Therefore, I have the right to know her grades and to discuss those grades with the faculty members who assigned them.

a. True      
b. False

2. I would like to make sure that my son actually received his degree in May. Since the degrees awarded information is included in Georgia Tech’s definition of directory information, you can release that information to me.

a. True
b. False

3. My daughter says she has registered for summer classes and will remain in Atlanta for that reason. Since enrollment status is directory information, you can tell me that.

a. True
b. False

4. My son received tentative honors at Commencement. I wish to know if final honors were awarded. Since this is public information, according to the directory information policy, I have a right to access it.

a. True
b. False

5. My daughter’s academic performance has been a cause of concern in the past few terms. In order for me to help her plan for next year, I need to know her academic standing now that final grades are in. As a concerned parent, I have the right to know this information.

a. True
b. False

6. I am responsible for paying my student’s education costs. Currently, he receives HOPE, but if something should change in his eligibility, it would be a financial burden on the family for which we would need a plan. Therefore, I have a right to view his grades so that I can gauge whether there might be a change in his eligibility.

a. True
b. False

Answers: 1-b, 2-a, 3-a, 4-a, 5-b, 6-b

So, how did you do? If you need a little refresher, don’t fret. All faculty and staff, even those with years of experience, are encouraged to review the policy — especially how it is specifically applied at Georgia Tech. Institutions have some leeway with certain aspects of FERPA; therefore, related items such as the definition of directory information can vary. In addition, FERPA has been amended several times since it was enacted in 1974 and continues to be living legislation. So, FERPA refreshers are always a good practice.

To learn more about FERPA at Georgia Tech, you can attend — at no cost — an upcoming FERPA Compliance Webinar on Thursday, April 9, sponsored by Georgia Tech's Compliance Partners Group. The webinar, which will include an introduction by Georgia Tech's Registrar Reta Pikowsky, explaining the application of FERPA at Tech, will provide high-level information about FERPA and insight into best practices to help ensure we are protecting our students’ information well.

Remember, compliance with FERPA is everyone’s responsibility.

Groups

Status

Categories

  • No categories were selected.

Keywords

  • No keywords were submitted.