Students' Rights to Privacy


There are times when parents telephone the university and request information from various offices about their student. They might want to ask about grades, about whether or not their student is attending classes, about the circumstances of their student's involvement with Judicial Affairs, or whether their son or daughter has scheduled an appointment with the Counseling Center. Even though parents may be making substantial financial contributions to their student's college education, information cannot be provided to them.

Since college students are fully emancipated adults, they are entitled to their right to privacy. It is against the law for our offices to give out student information to anyone without that student's written permission. The Family Educational Right and Privacy Act(FERPA) protects the privacy of student records. (This is sometimes referred to as the Buckley Amendment). The university simply cannot disclose information unless the student consents to such disclosure.

FERPA does provide an exception for disclosure of otherwise confidential information, but that is strictly reserved for specific health or safety emergency situations. In such cases, parental contact, for example, may be made, with or without the (adult) student's permission.

The best idea is for parents to seek the information they want directly from their son or daughter.

Counselors at the Pitt-Johnstown Counseling Center are not permitted to disclose any information about a student. In fact, they cannot even acknowledge whether or not they have met with any particular student because that would violate their right to privacy. However, our counselors are very willing to listen to information you believe to be important about your student. But please know that without a Consent to the Release of Confidential Information form signed by your student, it will necessarily be a one-sided conversation. Talk openly to your son or daughter about this kind of situation, and they might be willing to allow communication between you and your student's counselor.