Parents’ Rights Under FERPA

Under 20 USC 1232g(d) Parents lose their FERPA rights when a child turns 18 or starts attending or taking classes in college or any post-secondary institution, whichever happens first. However, parents of a financially dependent student defined by the IRS may obtain their child’s records, but must submit proof of the student’s dependency via the most recent tax form prior to receiving the requested information. As far as FERPA is concerned, a student’s spouse is an “unrelated third party” and therefore, has no rights under FERPA. While there is an exception that allows a college to disclose educational information to parents of a financially dependent student in the absence of consent, there is no such exception for a spouse, even if the spouse is supporting the student.