FERPA Explanation

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (a.k.a. FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) protects a student’s right to privacy concerning their academic records and information. The University of Houston will not disclose any information without the written consent from the student, with some exceptions as stated by FERPA. There are some types of information such as grades, financial aid, or class schedules that parents might like to receive but under FERPA, parents can not have access to these records unless the student gives written permission to the University. This means that even if you are paying the bills, you can not access your student’s educational records.

What records does FERPA cover?

FERPA regulations give privacy protection to all students’ “educational records”. Education records are broadly defined as “those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.” Examples of FERPA records include grades, transcripts, discipline records and class schedules.

What information can I have access to?

FERPA allows the University to release information referred to as “Directory Information” without a student’s permission. This type of information is generally considered not to be harmful or an invasion of privacy if released. Directory Information includes, but is not limited to, name, address, telephone number, major, degree sought, dates of attendance and honors. 

Will the University let me know if my child gets in any trouble related to drugs or alcohol?

The University may, without the student’s permission, release certain information to parents or guardians of students under the age of 21 found responsible for violating any law, rule or university policy pertaining to drugs or alcohol.

Will I be notified if my son or daughter is hurt or in danger?

If there is an emergency involving one of our students, the university will attempt to notify the students’ parents.

Why can’t I access my student’s records?

Though we recognize the important role of parents, we feel that, as part of the development process, it’s important to treat our students as adults. This involves communicating directly with the students instead of with the parents. The best way to get the information you want is to simply talk to your son or daughter. We encourage parents to communicate with their students about their academic progress. Open communication will help ensure that you are included in the important decisions and situations your students will face in college.

Where can I find out more information about FERPA?

FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. Please visit their website for additional information.

The Office of the General Counsel of the University of Houston System website also has FERPA information and resources.