As college is a time of significant growth for students, it is also marked by many transitions. Some students will live away from home for the first time, while others will challenge their values related to political affiliation or religious practice. When students enter college, there is also an important shift related to the management of educational records. The same laws that give parents and students control over a child's educational records through high school are transferred solely to the student at the college level. According to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974), college students are considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. Under this law, students have four basic rights:
- The right to access their own records
- The right to some amount of control over the disclosure of their records
- The right to permit disclosure of their confidential records
- The right to seek amendment to their records
While Willamette recognizes the legal right of students to privacy and personal control of their educational records, we value the meaningful role that parents play during their child's experience. The frequently asked questions* below are designed to help you better understand the federal privacy laws that govern student records and how and when we are able to communicate with you.
- How can I get a copy of my student’s grades?
- Are there release forms that would give me access to grades and financial information? What if I am paying for my child’s education?
- How do I gain access to my student’s medical and counseling records?
- Will I be contacted if my student is sick or hurt? What if my child is in academic trouble, or facing disciplinary action?
- My student provided me with access to his/her records. Can you email a copy of their transcript?
- My student provided me with access to his/her records during Opening Days. Why didn’t I receive a copy of their grades after the fall semester?
- How can I get copies of the bills for tuition, room and board, and fees? They seem to be going to my student.
- Where can I find out more about FERPA and student records?
1. How can I get a copy of my student’s grades?
The quickest and easiest way for parents to receive information about their child's grades, financial statement, or other student information is for the student to provide it. Students can look up information online, print it off, and give a copy to their parents.
2. Are there release forms that would give me access to grades and financial information? What if I am paying for my child’s education?
All University offices require a waiver of confidentiality to discuss student records with a parent or third party. The four offices below are the primary points of contact for most educational records at Willamette:
- Student Accounts (account issues, payment plans) - 503-375-5308
- Financial Aid (award and loan information) - 503-370-6273
- Registrar (grades and transcript requests) - 503-370-6206
- Housing and Community Life (housing and conduct information) - 503-370-6212
A staff member from each office can work with you and your son or daughter to provide the appropriate release forms for access.
3. How do I gain access to my student’s medical and counseling records?
FERPA regulations protect a student's educational records, which include grades, finances, and discipline records. Physical and mental health records are covered by other University policies, federal law (HIPPA), and professional ethics. In general, professionals working in these areas will not release student information except in emergency situations. Students can choose to release information from these records to a third party, but they must complete a "Release of Information" (ROI) form at the Bishop Wellness Center. As these forms specify the diagnosis to be disclosed, they cannot be completed ahead of time as a "blanket release" for potential issues. For more information about access to confidential medical and counseling records, please contact the Bishop Wellness Center at 503-370-6062.
4. Will I be contacted if my student is sick or hurt? What if my child is in academic trouble, or facing disciplinary action?
In most cases, the University will not contact parents or provide medical, academic, or disciplinary information without the student's permission. In the case of an extreme emergency, where the student's health is in serious jeopardy, or if there is a concern that the student poses a threat to self or to someone else, the University will contact parents. As a general guideline, if the student is able to communicate about the situation, it is up to the student to decide whether and how to discuss the issues.
5. My student provided me with access to his/her records. Can you email a copy of their transcript?
As a matter of policy, Willamette University does not release transcripts by email.
6. My student provided me with access to his/her records during Opening Days. Why didn’t I receive a copy of their grades after the fall semester?
The University does not automatically send information to third parties designated by the student. Parents will need to request a copy of the desired information by sending a letter or fax with their signature. A signed request must be submitted each time you want to receive protected information.
7. How can I get copies of the bills for tuition, room and board, and fees? They seem to be going to my student.
Online billing is the official means of distributing tuition and fees statements to all Willamette University students. Students can provide access to a parent or guardian, as an authorized user on the university online billing and payment system (Bill+Payment), by following the instructions below:
- Log in to Bill+Payment, which can be accessed here.
- Select Authorized Users from sub-menu under "My Account".
- Enter e-mail address where parent/guardian would prefer to receive communications from Bill+Payment.
- Select "yes" or "no" to allow access, or not, to tuition statements and payment history. Then, select "Continue".
- Accept "Agreement to Add Authorized User".
- Parents will receive two e-mails from Bill+Payment. One e-mail will include the URL link to Bill+Payment and their user name (e-mail address). The 2nd e-mail will include the temporary password for Bill+Payment. Parents/Guardians will need to input their name and establish a permanent password after logging in to Bill+Payment for the first time.
8. Where can I find out more about FERPA and student records?
Complete and abbreviated versions of the Willamette University Educational Records Policy are available online at www.willamette.edu/dept/registrar. If you have questions about this policy, please contact the Registrar's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-370-6206. The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for overseeing FERPA. See the Department's Web site for additional information: www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/.
*Adapted from information provided by the University of Minnesota.