Student Rights and Parental Access

Student Rights Under FERPA

As a student, the following primary rights are protected under FERPA:

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Right to review and inspect education records

You may request access to review and inspect your education records.

To do so, a student must write to the University official (i.e., registrar, dean, department chair, or other appropriate University person/office) responsible for the records. The written request must indicate the records the student wishes to inspect. The University official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct person or office to whom the request should be addressed and it becomes the student’s responsibility to submit the request to that person or office. Upon receipt of the written request, the University official has 45 days to comply. FERPA does not provide the student with the right to access certain records, including but not limited to financial records of a parent, and confidential letters and statements of recommendation for admission, employment, or honorary recognition that the student has waived the right to inspect and review. 

Right to seek to have your education records amended

You have the right to request an amendment of your education record if you believe it is inaccurate. However, FERPA was not intended to provide a process to be used by the student to question substantive judgments that are correctly recorded. For example, the FERPA rights of challenge are not intended to allow a student to contest a grade in a course because they felt a higher grade should have been assigned. FERPA is intended to ensure the factual and accurate nature of the information in the student’s education records and the student’s right to verify that information.

To request an amendment to an education record, you should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record you want changed, and specify why you believe it is inaccurate. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested, you have the right to a formal hearing. If UW–Madison still decides not to amend the record, you may place a written statement in the record about your view of the contested information. More information is available in the campus FERPA hearing policy.

In the process of challenging the education record information, the student may wish to have copies of appropriate documents in their education record file. The University may assess the student a reasonable per copy fee for such documents. A request for a copy of any document in an educational record will be denied if the student has a hold/service indicator on their records that prevents the release of the official academic transcript, or if the document is a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere.

Right to control disclosure of certain portions of your education records

Generally, UW–Madison must have your permission to release information from your education record. However, FERPA allows UW–Madison to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions:

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Other schools to which you are transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with your financial aid;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

UW–Madison may disclose, without consent, directory information. However, we must tell you about directory information and allow you a reasonable amount of time to request that we not disclose your directory information.

Right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education

Information is available from the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office.

Parents: Accessing Student Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records. During elementary, middle and high school, FERPA rights regarding a child’s education records apply to parents and students. For university students, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from parents to the student alone. This means that parents of UW–Madison students do not automatically have the right to access your student’s records on your own.

Fortunately, your student has ways of sharing important information with you. The quickest, 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 or email a copy to their parents. Unofficial transcripts can be accessed by students in their Student Center, their online hub for personal and enrollment data. (Please note that, as part of general security procedures, students are discouraged from sharing their official campus log-in credentials with anyone.)

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The transcript is the officially certified record of the student’s academic history at UW–Madison. Only the student can order their transcript.

In most cases, if your student wants to share information like grades and enrolled courses with you, they would not need to order a transcript. Instead, they should simply download and share with you their Student Record or other document.

Dean's List

Students who receive Dean’s List honors are notified by their school or college’s academic dean’s office. Announcements are sent to hometown newspapers, and UW–Madison displays a public list of honorees about a month after the end of the term, when the majority of final grades have been submitted. This list and announcements will not include any students who have restricted the release of their “directory information.” Read more about directory information and how students can restrict or release their information.

Permission to access education records

In circumstances when students are unable to share their FERPA-protected education records with parents or others, or for types of information not covered by “self-service” documents described here and elsewhere, students can grant one-time permission for parents or others to receive such information directly from school officials.

Students must first complete and sign a “single-use” permission form for each recipient, and for each request. UW–Madison does not have a blanket policy that allows parents to directly request education records throughout an academic year.

Student safety and emergencies

The Dean of Students Office coordinates reporting and interventions for “students of concern”: any student who is displaying behaviors that may interfere with a student’s ability to be successful at the University or disrupts the learning of others. FERPA allows school officials to share critical information about students of concern with appropriate parties. Please read more information provided by the Dean of Students.