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FERPA for Parents

Parents Walking

Supporting Your Student

The SUNY Cortland Registrar’s Office fully understands that parents and guardians are concerned about the well-being and success of their student while they attend SUNY Cortland. Parents are a critical form of support and guidance for students. We fully appreciate and recognize that parents wish to be involved and be apprised of their student's progress.

The Registrar and other campus offices are charged with protecting the privacy and integrity of student records and student identities. Like you, we are concerned with the safety and security of your student, and we strive to safeguard their records and their privacy by maintaing consistent and enforceable policies focused on data protection.

We are mandated to comply with Federal and State laws that require us to protect and secure student records in particular ways. One of the principal laws governing access to records is the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), often referred to as the Buckley Amendment.

About This Document

This document describes the policies governing data managed by the Registrar's Office at SUNY Cortland. Student Accounts or Financial Aid must address questions about access to financial information. Questions about access to disciplinary records can be addressed by the Student Conduct Office (Judicial Affairs). This document is only a plain language explanation of FERPA policies as they relate to records managed by the Registrar. Please review the SUNY Cortland policy on the FERPA pages for complete policy and legal information. This document does not replace, modify or override any college policy.

FERPA Laws & Policies

According to our campus policies, and in accord with Federal and State law, parents of students at SUNY Cortland do not have automatic access to student records. Once a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a post-secondary institution, he or she becomes an "eligible student" under Federal law, and all access rights formerly given to parents under FERPA transfer to the student. Information may only be shared with parents with the student’s consent, in a health or safety emergency, or pursuant to another FERPA exception as identified by law. According to the Department of Education's FPCO:

"When a student reaches 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution, he or she becomes an 'eligible student,' and all rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student. The term "education records" is defined as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution."   

According to the State University of New York University Counsel and the Procedures of the University:

"While FERPA permits campuses to release education records to parents of dependent students without student consent, it does not require them to do so. The parent must provide a copy of their most recent federal income tax return establishing the student’s dependency or the campus can rely on the student’s assertion of dependency for tax purposes on a form provided by the campus. Full rights under the Act shall be given to either parent, unless the University has been provided with evidence that there is a court order, state statute or legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation or custody that specifically revokes those rights."

SUNY Cortland utilizes the student's verification of tax status.  Students may contact the Registrar's Office to receive the Disclosure to Parents of Dependent Students form, to be completed by the student.

According to FERPA, students are viewed as responsible adults who legally decide who can have lawful access to their student records. Additionally, Universities and Colleges are strictly regulated in the sharing of student information, and cannot provide protected information about students to any party, including parents, without explicit consent from the student or pursuant to a FERPA exception.

Students Must Provide Consent

Consent must be granted to SUNY Cortland in writing if a student wishes to provide access to student academic information to a particular party (e.g. parent, legal guardian). 

  • Students must complete the Consent for Access form in the Registrar's Office. 
  • Consent forms will be accepted beginning the first week of classes. 
  • Students may grant or revoke consent at any time beginning with the first week of class.

The Registrar's policy does not exclude parents who may be financing a student’s education. Regardless of a student’s tax or financial status, the policy does not provide parents an automatic right of access to student information, except where permitted by a FERPA exception/requirement.

Questions about access to information related to student financial records should be directed to SUNY Cortland’s Student Accounts or Financial Aid offices.

Accessing Information Online

There is no recognized mechanism for students to grant parents or guardians access to myRedDragon academic records at this time. Accordingly, if your son or daughter has shared his or her password information with you, this cannot be recognized by the College as authorized access or permission to access records. The Registrar’s Office cannot share additional information with you about student records without explicit consent from the student, even if you have been granted access to myRedDragon. Additionally, being an established Authorized Payer of a student bill does not grant the parent access to academic records under the FERPA policies. 

Important Additional Information

Because we are limited in what we can share with parents and other parties - even with consent - speaking directly with your adult student about their success is always advisable.

  • SUNY Cortland does not release confidential or sensitive information to third parties over the phone, by fax, or via e-mail. Enrollment or graduation verification forms or requests requested by the student, may be faxed if a secure fax mechanism is provided.

  • SUNY Cortland does not provide parents with copies of student grades.  Your student may request these items (or access them via MyRedDragon) and provide them to you.  SUNY Cortland does not publish or provide students with a by-term grading educational record other than an official transcript or myRedDragon grade reports.

  • SUNY Cortland will deny copies of records if the student has administrative holds, has any accrued debts owed to the College, or has outstanding obligations owed to the College or the State University of New York in accord with New York law.

  • In the interest of protecting student privacy, enforcing security policies, and complying with federal and state reporting/record-keeping requirements; students and other parties are required to make FERPA requests or disclosure allowances in writing with a signature provided.

  • Court orders, legal requests and subpeonas may be addressed to our office using certified mail, hand delivery or delivery services. Faxed requests and email requests generally do not satisfy legal requirements.  Becasue SUNY Cortland must refer matters to SUNY legal counsel, requests should be made at least 5 business days in advance of a deadline.  Delivery, copying and preparation charges will apply as allowed by state law.

  • A student may revoke access to records at any time for any party.  At this point, your access to records will cease, unless you are granted access via FERPA exception, rule or requirement.

Additional Online Resources

For additional information about FERPA, state law and campus policy, please view these online resources: