FERPA for Parents
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (also sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student records and the obligations of the institution, primarily in the areas of release of the records and the access provided to these records. Generally the law provides that, with some exceptions, no information, applications, forms, letters, records, transcripts, etc. may be released, whether orally or in writing, without prior written consent, dated and signed by the student, specifying the records to be released, the reasons for release and to who the records are to be released.
The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 assigns certain privacy rights regarding their educational records to students who are 18 years of age or older or enrolled in post-secondary institutions. In general, this means that students need to give their permission for the release of information about their educational record. However, in Virginia there is a statutory right for the parent of a dependent child to access educational records of that child. In order to have access to this information, your child must either attest that he or she is your dependent, or you must provide a copy of your latest tax return to prove dependency. At JMU, the following pieces of information are considered "directory," or public, information. Directory information can be released to anyone, including parents, without the student's permission. Students do have the right, however, to prevent the release of even directory information. If students have exercised their right not to have directory information released, the University may not release it to anyone other than a parent who has proven dependency without the student's permission.
Directory information consists of:
- Student's name, addresses (including e-mail) and telephone numbers,
- Degree sought and time,
- Major/minor fields of study,
- College of major and year (freshman, sophomore, etc.),
- Enrollment status (full-time/part-time) including credit hours,
- Dates of attendance,
- Degrees, awards and honors conferred,
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports,
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams,
- The most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student,
- Fraternity and/or sorority and educational societies.
All other information regarding a student is considered private and can be released only with the permission of the student. This includes information about courses in which the student is enrolled, grades received, locations of courses, academic standing information, financial aid information, student account information, etc.
Grades, progress reports, exams
This information is protected under FERPA and parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s). Grades are available to students on MyMadison, the University's web student information system. The system is password protected so only the student is able to access their own grades. JMU does not mail grades to the student's home.
Enrollment verifications for employers and insurance companies can be obtained in the Office of the Registrar, Warren Hall, Room 300. The student may pick up the verification in the registrar's office or have the verification mailed to the parent, employer or insurance company.
Students' transcripts are considered private under FERPA. Therefore, only the student can request that we send transcripts to another person. JMU requires a signature to release a transcript. Transcripts can be obtained by students via their Student Center on MyMadison. Alternatively, the student may request a transcript by using the "Transcript Request" form available at the "forms" link and then fax the form or a letter of request to us at 540-568-3499 or mail it to the Office of the Registrar, Warren Hall, 170 Bluestone Drive, MSC 3533, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.
If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." In the case of an emergency, contact the University Ombudsperson at 568-6468 or the Public Safety office at 568-6764.
Contact for questions/concerns
General questions may be directed to the Office of the Registrar or to the office specifically responsible for components of the educational record. Comments or suggestions should be addressed to the Office of the Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 170 Bluestone Drive, MSC 3528, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.
James Madison University, Policy and Procedures Manual, Policy 2112
Family Policy Compliance Office, Department of Education