FERPA facts at your fingertips with new website

FERPA website graphicFor more than three decades, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) has helped to protect the privacy of student education records. As new legislation affects the rights and responsibilities mandated under the original act, SMU community members can stay up to date through the University Registrar’s new FERPA website.

“What was true before is still true today – a student’s education records are protected under [FERPA],” says Joe Papari, director of information systems in Enrollment Services. “However, while FERPA’s goal is to protect the privacy rights of students, it shouldn’t infringe on the classroom experience nor limit university officials’ ability to communicate student information with each other.”

Some highlights of the recent changes:

  1. Students now may use Access.SMU to provide their consent for parents to receive information from the student’s education records.
  2. Parents may view some academic and financial information through Access.SMU, if their student provides his or her consent.
  3. Faculty and staff members may use Access.SMU to view a student’s consent status before releasing information.
  4. The FERPA website provides detailed FERPA information, plus a tutorial for faculty and staff.
  5. The site also provides information for students, faculty, staff and parents on how to give and use online access to information.

>> Not all records available online, says Enrollment Services


Through Access.SMU‘s Release of Education Records feature, students can provide their consent for their parents to view some or all elements of their records, Papari says. The student’s authorization takes effect immediately and remains in effect until the student revokes it or until it expires – one year after the student’s last enrollment date at SMU.

After authorization is granted, parents will have confidential access to view records through Access.SMU, including unofficial transcripts, financial aid information and tuition balances. To view other records after authorization is granted – including degree progress, academic advising and judicial records – parents must contact the office that holds the records.

In addition, faculty and staff members now can view through Access.SMU whether a student has given consent for releasing information from his or her education records. Detailed instructions and information on this new feature are available in the FERPA site’s Release of Education Records section.

Useful links:

The basics at the SMU Registrar’s FERPA homepage
FERPA do’s and dont’s for faculty
A FERPA FAQ for staff members
Online tutorial for all SMU employees with access to student records

About Kathleen Tibbetts

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