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FERPA for Parents and Family

The Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 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 to these records. Any educational institution that receives funds under any program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Education is bound by FERPA requirements. Institutions that fail to comply with FERPA may have funds administered by the Secretary of Education withheld.


Do parents have a right of access to their child’s educational records?

Although parents do not have a right to these records, the university is permitted to share these records with the parents if the student is a dependent of the parents for federal income tax purposes. If the student is a dependent, the university is permitted to release records to the parent, including directory information and non‐directory information.

Requesting access to your student's educational records

  1. A parent can initiate a request for access to their student's information through the Bobcat Family Portal.  
  2. The parent can provide proof that they claim the student on their income tax by filling out a Parental Affidavit of Dependency Form.

Joining the Bobcat Family Portal

The Bobcat Family Portal will allow you to connect to your student by sending them a request to access their records. On the day after the request is approved, you will have access to view their information. 

Parents and Family Members can Join for Free

  1. Complete a quick on-boarding survey
  2. Click on “Discover Communities” and add those that interest you.
  3. Update your profile! Users can click the person icon in the top right corner of the page and click “Edit my Profile.”
  4. Update notification settings! Users can click the person icon in the top right corner of the page and click “Edit Notification Preferences.” Get alerts when something changes! 

Connecting to Your Student

  1. To connect to your student, click the graduation cap icon in the top-right corner of the page. Please note that your student must approve the request. Only then will you be able to access their information the following day. 

  2. Enter either the student's personal email address used on their admissions application if this is the first semester they are attending Texas State University or, if they are a continuing student enter their Texas State University email address.
  3. Parents and family can request access to:
  • Enrolled Hours/Schedule
  • Enrollment Status/Degree Information
  • Holds
  • Financial Aid Information
  • GPA/Completed Coursework
  • Account Balance

Having trouble connecting to your student? 

  1. Cancel the request by clicking on the graduation cap; scroll to the bottom, Click "Cancel this connection." 
  2. Start a new request with the student's correct email address.
  3. Student gets an email and approves your request.
  4. If you are still having issues watch our video tutorial.

 

When students accept their parent or family member’s request, they must accept the connection and then must approve the FERPA requests. Parents and family members can either request everything or choose à la carte what they would like to see. Similarly, the student can either grant access to everything, or pick and choose what they would like their parent to have access to. Students can revoke access at any time by logging into the Bobcat Family Portal with their Texas State username and password.


Directory Information

Directory information is a student’s information that may be released without the consent of the student. Directory information includes the following:

  •     Name
  •     Fields of study, including major and minor
  •     Enrollment status (actual hours enrolled, undergraduate, graduate, etc.)
  •     Type of award received (academic, technical, continuing education, etc.)
  •     Dates of attendance
  •     Student classification
  •     Name of the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended
  •     Telephone number
  •     Active, local and permanent addresses
  •     Weight and height of athletes
  •     Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  •     Names of prospective graduates
  •     Names of parents
  •     Photographs of students, and
  •     Any other records that could be treated as directory information under FERPA

Frequently Asked Questions

Recently many questions have arisen concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the university’s obligations to share information about students with their parents.

What are parents’ and students’ rights under FERPA?

At the K-12 school level, parents have the right to inspect and review their children’s education records. But when a student enters the university at any age, these FERPA rights transfer to the student. However, FERPA clearly provides ways in which the university may share education records with the parents of a student without the student’s written consent.

May the university disclose information to parents of a dependent student?

Yes. Under FERPA, the university may (but is not required to) release any and all information to parents without the consent of the student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under the IRS rules. The parent can provide proof that they claim the student on their income tax by filling out a Parental Affidavit of Dependency Form. If either parent carries the student as a dependent, then both parents have access to the information. 

May the university disclose information to parents in a health or safety emergency?

Yes. FERPA permits the university to disclose information from education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their child.

Can parents be informed about students’ violation of alcohol and controlled substance rules?

Yes. FERPA permits the university to let parents of students under the age of 21 know when the student has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Can the university disclose law enforcement unit records to parents and the public?

Yes. The university may disclose information from its University Police Department to anyone—including parents or other law enforcement authorities—without the student’s consent. UPD records are exempt from the privacy restrictions of FERPA. However, exceptions to release under the Texas Public Information Act may prevent disclosure of this information. 

Can university officials share their observations of students with parents?

Yes. Nothing in FERPA prohibits a university official from sharing with parents information that is based on that official’s personal knowledge or observation and that is not based on information contained in an education record. For example, FERPA would not prevent a faculty member from letting a parent know of his or her concern about their child that is based on the faculty member’s personal knowledge or observation.

How does HIPAA apply to students’ education records?

HIPAA is a federal law that protects privacy interests in the electronic exchange of health information. However, the HIPAA privacy rules excludes from its coverage those records that are protected by FERPA. For this reason, records that are protected by FERPA are not subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and may be shared with parents under the circumstances described above.

Where would I find additional FERPA information?

Texas State University UPPS

U.S. Department of Education

 

Any additional questions or comments regarding FERPA may be directed to the Office of the University Registrar at registrar@txstate.edu or (512) 245-2367.