Sunday, October 1, 2023

Legal Talk: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

By Kendra Rey, Attorney

In past articles, we have discussed how 18-year-olds are legally adults in Texas, meaning that their parents are no longer the default decision makers for their financial and medical decisions should that young adult become incapacitated. All adults, even the newly minted ones, need to have financial and medical powers of attorney in place.

Another area of concern for these young people is their new status under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Congress enacted FERPA in 1974 to protect the privacy of an individual’s educational records. It applies to all schools that receive federal funding: all public schools and the great majority of private colleges and universities.  This means that, at the age of 18, a student can insist that a school keep that person’s educational records and “personally identifiable information” private from prying eyes. That means you, parents.

If your child turns 18 while in a public high school, or if your child is going away to college (and you’re paying), you may want to be able to see the academic progress your child is making. You may want to participate in any meetings with academic advisors or counselors. Your child may need help getting an inaccurate or misleading school record corrected. At the very least, you will probably want to see your child’s grades.

To do so, your child needs to sign a written consent that allows you access to his or her school records. Post-secondary schools generally provide their own forms of these consents, and parents should be on the lookout for them. However, if your child is still in high school, or if the university’s form is not readily available, consider having your child execute a general FERPA consent. You’ll be glad you did.

Attorney Kendra Rey is an estate planning attorney at Hammerle Finley Law Firm, a boutique law firm offering services in estate planning, probate, guardianship, business law, litigation, and real estate. Kendra can help you to explore this topic further and obtain the documents that are right for your family. Contact her via or (972) 436-9300. 


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The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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