Parental notification policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Parents often remain an important influence in their children’s lives after students enter college and Olin views parents as an important partner in their student’s education. However, there is a federal law that guides what information can be released to a parent, or anyone else, without the student’s permission. This law is called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Attending college is a time of growth and development for students. As such, it is the college’s general policy (and is required of us by FERPA) to treat the student as the person primarily privileged to authorize release of personal information. This policy reflects our philosophy that an important goal of undergraduate education is to continue the student’s development as an autonomous adult. The college encourages students to share information with their parents or legal guardians, but ultimately the decision of what information to share normally rests with the student. Hence, the vast majority of communications are directed to the student rather than to the parents/guardians. For example, grades are only available to students via secure access to the student records system.

It is important for parents to recognize that it is not the college’s intention to exclude them from information. Rather, we are following the guidelines required of us by FERPA. As such, we encourage students and parents to have open and ongoing dialogue regarding how information will be shared between them. Decisions regarding information sharing are most appropriately made within the family. As part of that discussion, students may decide to give consent to the college to disclose protected information to parents. In that case, students must sign and submit the form found at My Forms on Olin Registrar Page. For more information regarding student privacy and FERPA please visit

We recognize, however, that this commitment to fostering the development of the student and adhering to FERPA requirements must be balanced with the parents’ interest in the well-being and progress of their student at the college, and we recognize that there are times in which parental involvement can be in everyone’s best interests. Thus, while the general policy is to be protective of the student’s privacy, there are instances allowed by law, including those listed below, in which a parent or legal guardian will be notified of matters concerning a student. In such instances, we believe it is appropriate for the student to inform their parent or guardian directly so, whenever reasonable, we will allow time for students themselves to do so. However, in situations where prompt notification is prudent, a member of the Student Affairs staff will contact a parent or guardian as soon as possible.

Change of status at the college

Parents are notified, usually in writing, when a student’s status at the college changes. It should be noted that less severe instances of disciplinary or academic action may result in warnings to the student, of which parents are normally not notified.

Health and safety emergencies

The college reserves the right to contact parents when it reasonably believes that the student is subject to a health or safety emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, situations in which a student needs to be transported to the hospital in a critical situation. It also includes situations in which it comes to the attention of college officials that a student is inexplicably absent from campus for a prolonged period. College officials may contact a parent or guardian in order to ascertain the whereabouts of the student. However, normally, college officials will first try to contact the student’s listed emergency contact of record to locate the student. Students are responsible for identifying their contact. The college is not responsible for a student’s failure to be in touch with their parents.

Disclosures for other reasons in exercise of college’s judgment

The college reserves the right to notify a parent or guardian, as permitted by law, for reasons other than those listed above, based on our judgment of what is in the best interests of the student and of the college.