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The Transition to College: Parent Access to Student Information

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Laurie Peltier

Written by Laurie Peltieron April 4th, 2017

I graduated from Bentley University with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing, and completed my MBA at Anna Maria College, where I also served as financial aid director. In addition, I was an assistant director of financial aid at Becker College and have worked as a consultant with several other colleges in Massachusetts. I work with the Massachusetts Education Finance Authority (MEFA) as workshop presenter at area high schools and volunteer at several FAFSA Day events.
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Congratulations! Your child is headed off to college! Eighteen years of milestones flash before you as you prepare for this new adventure.  In this new college environment, all the information you were once responsible for and privy to, like your child’s grades, tuition bill, and medical records will be off limits to you. Your access to these records will be denied if your newly adult child does not give you authorization. Here are some things you need to know in order to navigate this new landscape:
  1. Completing a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) authorization will be instrumental in providing you access. During orientation or on the college’s website over the summer, your child will have the opportunity to complete a FERPA form and authorize who will have access to his or her data. Start talking to your child now about completing that form, and how you intend to use the information you are given access to.
  2. The tuition bill may not come in the mail. The college may email the student letting them know there is an invoice to view on their account. Using specific login information will allow the student to view and print this invoice that will likely be due sometime in August. Make sure your student is checking their college email for these notifications. Sign up your email so you will be notified as well.
  3. A medical form (similar to what you had to complete for K-12 education or summer camp) will be required before the student starts college. Up-to-date immunization records may also be required. You will be able to download this form from the college’s website. Your child’s medical records will be off limits to you, but make sure the emergency contact information is completed and up-to-date just in case.
Navigating this new landscape can be tricky for a family, but, if you keep the lines of communication open and stay on top of the forms required, you will all be enjoying your child’s newfound independence!

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