What FERPA Means for You and Your College Student

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records.  It also provided control over the release of educational record information.  The original intent of this legislation was to keep elementary and high school records private and to give parents access to their child’s school records.

Once a student turns eighteen, or attends school beyond secondary school, the rights of access to the student’s records transfer to the student.  This means that all academic information regarding your college student goes directly to the student unless the student has given specific, written permission to release that information to someone else.  The exception to this law occurs if parents document in writing that the student is still claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes.  The college may require you to submit your most recent tax forms in order to support this claim.

What does FERPA mean for you as a college parent?

Generally FERPA rules mean that student academic information such as grades or academic standing (GPA, academic transcript, academic warning, academic probation, or discipline records) will be given to the student and not to the parents. College students are considered responsible adults who may determine who will receive information about them.   College representatives are prohibited from discussing information about the student’s academic record with parents.  Most colleges have a waiver form which students can sign allowing records to be released to parents or college representatives, such as faculty members, to discuss records with parents.  Your student may, or may not, wish to sign this release.

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What To Do If Your Student Is Academically Dismissed From College

When you send your student off to college you hope and assume that he will be successful.  Most students are successful and do well.  However, some students struggle – either socially or academically. No parent wants to receive the news that his or her student has been academically dismissed from college because of poor performance.  It is distressing and disheartening news.  But it does happen, and parents need to help students deal with the situation.  Although you may be disappointed, and possibly angry, your response may be a large factor in helping your student move forward.

Here are some things to consider if your college student is academically dismissed from college.

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Boomerang Kids: When Your College Student or College Graduate Moves Back Home

You know that the transition to college during the first year is going to be stressful for both your college student and for you.  You work hard to give your student the independence that he needs and wants.  You have both survived the experience and your student is thriving.  Then your student needs to move back home.  This might be due to a change of plans during college – either because of a transfer to a school closer to home, for financial reasons, or some other reason.  Or this might happen once your student graduates.  In these difficult economic times more and more students are returning home after college until they can find a job and get their bearings.

You may be delighted to have your student return home, or you may be concerned about how things will proceed.  Having your student home again may be a mixed blessing as your empty nest becomes repopulated.  Every family will be different.  Every parent’s reaction will be different.  But there are some things that you can do to help the process go more smoothly.

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Discussing Campus Safety With Your College Student

In our previous post, we discussed legislation which has been passed to aid colleges in establishing procedures and sharing information regarding campus safety.  This is an important beginning in keeping college students safe.  However, the actions that college students take each day are also important in increasing their safety.  Parents can, and should, encourage students to increase their awareness of their actions on a daily basis. Parents and students might also consider some of the following factors, or ask questions regarding them, as they visit colleges during the admissions process.

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Legislation for Campus Safety: Reassurance for Parents of College Students

As college parents, one of our major concerns when our student heads off to college may be her safety.  We want our student to do well academically, we want her to be healthy, we want her to be happy, but first and foremost, we want her to be safe. The safety of college students has become an increasingly important topic in recent years

Ideally, a three way partnership will do the most to help keep college students safe.  Parents need to talk to their students about safety, students need to exercise awareness and behave responsibly, and colleges need to take precautions to keep students safe.

Concern for the safety of college students is a growing national concern in light of recent tragedies on college campuses. Two laws in particular have been passed which attempt to begin to address this concern.

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Helping Your College Student With Sibling Relationships

As our college student heads off to college, we may be feeling the “empty nest” syndrome, even though there are still other children at home.  The family is different now, with one or more students off to college.  We know that things are different and we work to adjust to the new family dynamic.  However, parents and college students are not the only ones making an adjustment.  When our college student leaves home, siblings remaining at home will be feeling the change, and the loss, as well.  There are some things that we can think about as parents, and that we can help our college student to think about, to make this adjustment go smoothly for siblings remaining at home.

Obviously, how we deal with siblings at home will depend on their age.  A sibling in high school, approaching college himself, will have different perceptions and needs than a young child.  Family dynamics are also unique and vastly different.  But certain actions and conversations may be helpful to anyone.

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Alternatives to Having a Car on Campus

In an earlier post, we suggested some of the considerations parents and students might want to discuss as they decide whether or not the student will take a car to campus.  Many colleges prohibit first-year students from bringing cars, but at some point during the college years, your student may want to consider whether or not to take a car to school.

More and more colleges are encouraging their students to leave their cars home.  As more students bring cars to school, parking on many campuses is becoming a serious issue.  Colleges and universities are also trying to do their part to institute policies which are environmentally friendly.  So if your college student is considering whether or not to take a car to school, he might want to investigate the alternatives available.

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Helping Your College Student Select a Meal Plan

If your college student will be living on campus, one of the decisions she may need to make is choosing a meal plan.  The policies and options for meal plans vary from school to school.  They are often mandatory for resident students and may be offered as an option for commuters.  They usually involve a prepaid account from which your student draws for meals.  She will probably have a meal card (which may be her college ID card) which she will swipe each time she purchases a meal.

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Summer Preparations For Your College Student’s Transition to Freshman Year.

The SAT’s are done, the college visits are done, the applications submitted, the acceptances received, the deposit paid.  Your student is headed off to college in the fall.  It’s a wonderful – and a stressful – time for everyone.  The time between high school graduation in the spring and arrival at college in the fall goes by quickly and yet may seem at times interminable.  There is a lot going on.

There are some things that you, and your college student, can do during the summer to make the transition to college go much more smoothly in the fall.  This is the beginning of your new role as a college parent – that of a coach or mentor.  Summer is a great time to try out the new role.

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College Students and Credit Cards — Part 2

Numbers can tell us a lot, and it is important that we consider the sometimes surprising numbers regarding college student use of credit cards.  In our previous post, we looked at some of the current statistics regarding student credit card use.  In this post, we consider not only the numbers, but also what parents might do to help their college students to understand and work with their credit cards.

 It is clear when we look at some of the numbers surrounding college student credit card use that credit cards are an important part of college student life.  Students often have multiple cards and they use those cards to pay for everything from tuition, to textbooks, to food and clothing.  Many students carry a balance – which may be because of lack of understanding or from irresponsibility – but which also may be out of necessity.  Student credit card use mirrors what we are learning about American society’s use of credit cards.

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