Parents, Communication, and FERPA

Transitioning from high school: Your student's records

We know that, as parents, you are used to having open access to your child’s academic life. Given the prevalence of high school websites and information systems, you have the ability to view homework assignments, grades, athletic schedules, lunch menus and other important information related to your child’s progress. Here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we direct our communication to the student, who in turn determines how best to share information with family and loved ones. We recognize this is a significant change for both students and parents. Below you’ll find information about the University’s philosophy and practices as they pertain to communicating with students as well as parents. We invite you to explore this page so as to better understand what you can expect as your child joins our university community.

Understanding FERPA and policies governing how the university relates to parents

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), enacted in 1974, protects the privacy of a student’s educational record and requires that the disclosure of any information occurs only with permission. Therefore, a student must give explicit permission regarding the specific information that may be shared, as well as the specific individuals with whom it may be shared. The Office of the Registrar, as the steward of official student academic records, provides further information on FERPA and offers specific information for parents.

Students who would like to allow disclosure of information should visit the Office of the Registrar (901 West Illinois Street, Suite 140, Urbana, IL 61801) to complete the Student Consent to Release Educational and Financial Records form. This form must be completed annually. It is important to note that our goal is to encourage independent functioning and to empower your student to take control of communication related to his/her academic records.

Developing a communication plan with your student

While it may seem like you are suddenly being plunged into radio silence as it relates to your student’s academics, we encourage you to take this opportunity to develop a working partnership with your student. Take some time to talk to one another about your expectations as it relates to communication. How often will you talk to each other? What kind of information will be shared? What are those key areas of which each of you would like to stay apprised? Here are some topics that you may want to address: academics, health (both physical and mental), relationships, conduct, co-curricular involvement.

The start of college can be a perfect time to begin practices that will define your relationship to one another as adults. It can also provide opportunities for you to shift to the role of coach, encouraging and empowering your student to develop essential life skills and manage independent living.

Communicating with the university

Please know that, although we may not be at liberty to share specific details related to your student, we are happy to share information about university policies and procedures, as well as the various programs and services available to students. As you support and coach your student through the ups and downs of college, we can help provide you with essential knowledge that you can then pass on. Feel free to utilize the university’s website to learn more about various offices—a great deal of information is available online.

In the Student Assistance Center in the Office of the Dean of Students, we have a Dean on Duty during office hours who is available to take calls. If you’d like to consult regarding strategies for providing assistance and guidance to your student, please give us a call. And don’t hesitate to refer your student to our office; no appointment is necessary. The Dean on Duty is available Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–5 pm, to meet with students who drop in.

Consider us partners in supporting and empowering your student during these formative years.