What is FERPA?

One of the most significant changes a parent experiences in sending a son or daughter to college, is the difference in privacy standards for educational records. Muskegon Community College has a long history and tradition of protecting student privacy. Additionally, the Muskegon Community College is subject to a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (also called FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) that sets privacy standards for student educational records and requires institutions to publish a compliance statement, including a statement of related institutional policies.

Why do I have limited access to my son or daughter’s college records especially when I am paying the bills?

Under FERPA, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary and secondary school setting are transferred to students, once a student has turned eighteen, or is attending any post secondary educational institution. Parents can be given access to their son or daughter’s records if the student authorizes the permission in writing.

If a high school student is 17 and taking classes at Muskegon Community College, are the FERPA rights with the parent?

No. Section 99.3 of the FERPA regulations defines an eligible student as an individual who has reached the age of 18 OR who attends a post-secondary institution. If a college student is under the age of 18, that student is still guaranteed FERPA rights because he is attending a post-secondary institution.

How can I find out my son’s or daughter’s grades?

The best approach is to ask your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults can be a challenge. They’re not always as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.

As a parent, can I obtain my son’s or daughter’s schedule from MCC for the purpose of purchasing text books at the book store?

Not without obtaining the student’s written consent to release the student’s schedule to his or her parent. At Muskegon Community College, a student’s class schedule is not listed as directory information; therefore this information may not be released.

What records does FERPA cover?

The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions, the FERPA regulations give privacy protection to all students’ “education records.” Education records are 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 student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files. FERPA does not cover counseling or medical records but other policies do.

What is an education record?

Any record that is maintained by MCC and is personally identifiable to the student is considered an “education record.” Exceptions to this are medical records, law enforcement records, employment records, alumni records, and sole possession records such as notes in sole possession of the maker, used only as a personal memory aid and not revealed or accessible to any other person.

Will I be notified if my son or daughter is placed on academic probation?

No. Information about grades and academic standing is sent directly to students. You can, of course, ask your child to keep you informed about his academic performance.

You receive a telephone call from a parent claiming there is a family emergency and they need to contact their child immediately. Can you tell the parents the day, time and location of their child’s class?

Generally, the answer is “no.” At Muskegon Community College, a student’s class schedule is not listed as directory information; therefore this information may not be released. However, every effort will be made to contact the student to give them the emergency information.

Where can I find out more information about FERPA?

FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA Website (with links to FERPA regulations) at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco/ferpa

FERPA information is also available from the office of Records and Registration, Room 106. If you have further questions, please contact Jean Roberts, Dean of Academic Services and Registrar.