The Catholic University of America




Parents of college students understandably want to know how their son or daughter is doing at college. Once a student matriculates at an Institution of Higher Education, education records maintained by the institution are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known by the acronym FERPA. This law was drafted with the intention of ensuring that parents of K-12 students had access to their records. With respect to college students, the presumption is that students own the right to access their own record, and disclosures to others, including parents, are limited.

The school may choose to grant access to an education record to a parent if the student is a tax dependent of the parent and the relevant tax forms are provided to prove dependency. Another way to allow access to a parent is for the student to sign a form waiving the right to keep his/her record confidential and specifying who may see the record, and what record may be disclosed.

There are situations in which a parent will be notified of a situation regarding the student without making a request. This would include health and safety emergencies, as well as a violation of a law or university policy pertaining to an alcohol or drug violation. See the CUA Student Records Policy and the Parental Notification Policy for more on this. See also the Q and A section on release of records to parents without the student’s consent for specific fact situations that have come up in the past.

Disability Support Services

Education records maintained by the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) are treated with a high level of confidentiality. As such, the records are considered to be educational records, not medical records. They are kept in secure files, with access limited to the personnel in the DSS office.

There may be occasions when the DSS office will share information regarding a student's disability with other CUA personnel if circumstances necessitate such sharing due to an appropriate legitimate educational need to know.  As with parents, confidentiality is not maintained in the case of abuse, suicide or homicidal intent.

If a parent has a question about their student and the services provided by DSS or accommodations provided by the University, it is the practice of the DSS to set up conversation that includes both the student and the parent(s). Parents are encouraged to start the conversation with the student.

If a student wishes to have information shared with others outside the institution, the student must provide specific written authorization, prior to each request to the DSS office.  Before giving such authorization, the student should understand the purpose of the release and to whom the information is being released. 

The Disability Support Services office is committed to ensuring that all information and communication pertaining to a student's disability is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law.

Release Forms

Release of information to DSS

This form is used to request documentation of a disability from a medical or counseling facility where the disability was diagnosed.

Release of information from DSS

This form is used when a student is requesting information from their file be sent to a testing agency, medical or educational professional or to the student directly.

Release of information to parents

This form is used to allow information sharing between DSS, the student and their parent(s). The student must come in to DSS to request this form directly from us for a one time use.