Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

It is important to understand how this law affects the way we are to handle student records as employees of Western Washington University.

What is FERPA?

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, passed by Congress in 1974.  It protects the confidentiality of student records against disclosure to third parties and guarantees access to those records by the student.

Parental Access to Student’s Educational Records

When a student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student.  The only way in which parents may obtain protected information on their child is for them to obtain a signed consent from their child.

What is an Educational Record?

Any information provided by a student to the university for use in the educational process is considered a student educational record.  That includes personal information, enrollment records, grades, schedules, and medical records.  Examples include: a document in the students application file, a computer printout with the student’s name, a class list, a computer screen with the student’s name on it, notes that may have been taken during an advising session.

In Summary

Due to restrictions placed on the university by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Western Washington University’s (WWU) policy, Western's Education Abroad office (EdAbroad) is not able to release any information regarding a student to their parents or other parties outside of WWU and its affiliates.  This includes the student’s application status with EdAbroad, their study abroad, exchange or internship plans, their program budget, etc.  It is up to the student to communicate any necessary information to their parents or other parties who may request information.  Parents may contact WWU Student Fiscal Services regarding billing or financial matters if the student has completed a Release of Financial Information form and/or a Power of Attorney.