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What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. §1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

The same laws that give parents and students access to, and control over, a student's educational records from elementary through high school, transfer ownership of the records to the student at the college level, regardless of the student's age.
According to FERPA (also known as the Buckley Amendment), college students are considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. Under this law, parents who want to receive a copy of their student's academic or financial records can do so if their student signs a release form.

Directory Information

Personally identifiable "directory information" from the education records of the student in attendance at the College of Saint Benedict or Saint John's University may be disclosed without prior consent of the student concerned as provided by FERPA (subject to the right of the student to inform the college in writing that all "directory information" with respect to him or her shall not be so disclosed).

Such notice must be delivered to the Registrar and will be effective as to such disclosures for the duration of enrollment, except that such a restriction will not apply to material already printed or in the process of being printed. Forms are available in the Registrars Office. The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University designated the items listed below as directory information and this information may be released for any purpose at the discretion of the colleges unless a request for non-disclosure is on file:

Category I:      Name, address, telephone number, dates of attendance, class.

Category II:    Previous institution(s) attended, major field of study, awards, honors, degree conferred.

Category III:   Past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors of athletes (height and weight), date and place of birth.


Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of personally identifiable information that make up part of the student's education record. 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).

The quickest, easiest way for parents to receive information about their student'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 or e-mail a copy to their parents. Some student records are available via the Banner Self Serve on the CSB/SJU website.

Access to Student Records

At the postsecondary level, parents have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son or daughter's education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, records may be released to parents only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena.

FERPA requires that access to a college student's records must be granted by approval of the student. Parents can, however, receive information about their student's records if the student agrees to provide access. Parents also can receive information about their student's record if they submit proof that the student is a dependent for tax purposes. A form will be sent to you with one of your first billing statements which can be completed and returned to establish your student's dependence status. You may be required to provide a copy of the most recent year's federal tax form showing that the parent claims the student as a dependent.


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." Factors considered in making this assessment are: the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved; the need for the information; the time required to deal with the emergency; and the ability of the parties to whom the information is to be given to deal with the emergency.

Academic or Disciplinary Action

In most cases, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University will not contact parents or provide 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, if there is a concern that the student poses a threat to herself or to someone else, or if disciplinary issues are jeopardizing a student's enrollment, the college may 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. Parents who have questions or concerns about their student's academic or disciplinary status should contact Academic Advising or the Dean of Students.