Why Do Colleges Support Student Privacy?

While BW and other colleges value parents as an integral link in the education of students, there is a law that dictates how institutions of higher education should respond to areas concerning student privacy.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (known as FERPA) grants confidentiality to students over the age of 18 in all areas of their academic, health and private lives at BW and at other institutions of higher education that receive federal funding.  

Under FERPA, college students are considered responsible adults who can determine the release of information about themselves.  Within its content, FERPA states that access to a student's record should be granted with his/her approval.  Accordingly, BW does not routinely give out information concerning your student without written release by him/her.

While this practice has the potential to be frustrating at times, it should be viewed in the context in which it was instituted.  At BW, FERPA-related policies aren't meant to reduce parent involvement, but to protect student confidentiality within the realm of encouraging parent-student dialog about issues relating to college life.

Common Questions About FERPA Include:

How Can I Obtain a Copy of My Student's Grades?
Students access their grades, financial aid and other important college-related materials online via their student accounts. Parents can obtain this information by talking with their students and/or asking them to forward the information. While BW staff members can answer general questions, they cannot divulge personal information without student permission and without proper identification of the person making the request. Students who want a grade report mailed to them or to their families need to complete a Grade Report Request form each grading period. 

Do Educational Records Include Medical And Counseling Reports?  
Physical and mental health records are covered under other college policies, federal law and professional ethics.  In general, professionals working in these areas will not release student information except in emergency situations.  If needed, students can chose to release information from their records to a third party.

What About Alcohol And Drug Violations?
Parents and legal guardians may be notified when students under 21 years of age violate behavioral policies regarding the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.  If your student is engaged in a disciplinary procedure at BW and wants to release information about an incident to a parent/guardian or attorney, the student must complete a form through the Office of Student Conduct.  More information is available in the Student Handbook.

Where Can I Learn More About FERPA?

Who Can View Student Records?
Under FERPA, students can inspect, review and amend their educational records as is deemed necessary.  In addition, they can control access to their educational records that are maintained by an educational institution.

What About Parents And Other Individuals?

Parents who can prove financial dependency of a student have a legal right to view content. Other individuals who may be able to see your student's information include:  BW staff members who have good cause, staff members of other schools where your student is enrolled, providers of federal/state aid for which a student has applied, accreditation organizations, personnel dealing with an emergency involving the well being of a student, administrators of student aid programs collecting data for research purposes affecting student aid, and courts of law.

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