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Learn more about Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

One of the most significant changes a family experiences when sending a student to college or university relates to privacy standards for educational records at colleges and universities. Bentley University believes that managing privacy is an important development task for its students.  Guidelines regarding privacy of students’ educational records are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law established in 1974.

Below are some FAQs about FERPA.

What does FERPA cover?

FERPA regulations, with limited exceptions, limit access to all students' educational records. Once a student is 18 years of age, the student is the primary owner of his or her student records and, with limited exceptions, is the only one to whom an educational institution may release the records. Educational records are those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution. Examples of records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most conduct files. FERPA does not cover medical treatment or medical records but other statutes, policies and professional organization guidelines guide Bentley’s philosophy and policies regarding student physical and emotional health. 

How can I find out my student's grades?

The best approach is to talk with your student directly. The ability and willingness of students to share information usually grows, especially as they move towards greater autonomy and become more confident in managing their own lives. Allowing your student to develop these skills is an important part of their development and will aid them in becoming successful in both the university setting and society at large.

Is there a waiver my student can sign so I can have access to their grades?

In some cases, students may want to allow parents or guardians to view their grades. Students can sign an academic waiver, which allows a designated person to view their final course grades online. This waiver pertains only to the ability to view final grades online, and does not pertain to other points of academic progress.

Is there a waiver my student can sign so I can have access to all educational records?   

Many offices at Bentley University collect and maintain information about students. Each office that maintains student records maintains policies and procedures for handling those records that are consistent with Bentley’s philosophy on student growth and development, educational best practice and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Specific information related to FERPA is available in the Student Handbook. If you desire access to certain information regarding your student’s record, we recommend that you talk with your student directly as they will need to provide written permission to the appropriate office, allowing information to be shared with a specific person.

Why do I have limited access to my student's records especially when I am paying the bills?

It is Bentley’s philosophy founded upon established educational principles that students develop and mature best when they learn to seek their own solutions to issues and concerns, allowing them to grow and gain confidence in their ability to be autonomous. This is an integral part of the college experience and one that we heartily endorse.

As noted above under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act,(FERPA), once a student has turned eighteen, or is attending any post-secondary educational institution, the access rights that parents and legal guardians had in the elementary, middle, and high school setting are transferred over to the student. Parents and other individuals can only be given access to student’s records if the student authorizes permission in writing.

Will I be notified if my student is placed on academic probation?

Information about grades and academic standing is provided directly to students. You can ask your student to keep you informed about their academic performance, which is an approach we strongly recommend.

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

If we are aware that your student has been transported to the hospital as the result of an emergency, has been arrested or involved in legal difficulty, we will attempt to notify you via the emergency contact information your student has provided. It is important that you follow up with your student to ensure that emergency contact information has been submitted. Our notification will provide you with the location your student is in and more specific information (if available) regarding the situation. The student’s welfare is our chief concern. Hospitals and police agencies may also follow their own notification protocols.

What if my student is hurt while off campus?

If we learn of an emergency involving a Bentley student, we will attempt to notify the student's family in accordance with our emergency notification policy and procedures. Hospitals and police agencies will also follow their own notification protocols.

Can I access a student's educational records if they are a dependent for federal tax purposes?

FERPA regulations authorize—but do not require—disclosure of student records to parents of a student who is claimed as a dependent for federal tax purposes. Bentley University's philosophy and policies surrounding privacy do not take the student's federal tax dependent status into consideration. Student records will only be disclosed to parents when the student provides written permission to do so or when there is a health or safety emergency that warrants such disclosure. 

Does FERPA require notice to parents when a student violates alcohol or drug laws?

FERPA authorizes, but does not require, disclosure of any Federal, State, local law or Bentley policies governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance to parents. Bentley maintains a student's conduct record as belonging to the student. However, in certain circumstances regarding drug, alcohol or otherwise serious conduct allegations, parental notification may be made.   

Will I be informed if my student is treated at the Health Center?

The Center for Health and Wellness maintains a policy of strict confidentiality for all services and medical records. If you are over 18 years of age, your information will not be shared with anyone, including staff, faculty, family and friends without a student’s written consent, except in cases required by law or if students are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. 

Will I be informed if my student is seeing a counselor at the Counseling Center?

Professional ethical codes and educational best practice preclude counseling center staff from sharing student records with third parties, including parents, without the student's consent.

However, should staff determine that a student poses an imminent danger to self, or to an identifiable third party, parents and appropriate persons may be notified.

How will I know if my student is subject to University conduct action?

The University typically does not inform parents of student conduct action, but may in the case of some drug, alcohol or otherwise serious conduct allegations. During the conduct process, students are also encouraged to inform their parents of serious infractions.  Information regarding Student Rights and Responsibilities may be found in the Student Handbook. Staff is available to discuss general information about the resolution process, University regulations and related laws. 

For more information regarding the Bentley University Conduct System, contact the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at (781) 891-2161.