SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
Dear SMU Student and Parent:
In support of our university mission to offer students the necessary
tools and information to ensure their success inside and outside the
classroom, I am writing to provide you with important information
regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA),
which affects the release of student education records to third
parties, including parents.
The release of student education records by a college or university
to a third party, other than a university department or official, is
generally prohibited without the studentís written permission. There
are limited circumstances under which student education records may
be released to a third party without the studentís written
permission, and those are outlined in detail in SMUís FERPA Policy,
which may be accessed online at
www.smu.edu/registrar/ferpa/. This letter tells how permission
can be given and why it should be considered seriously by students
in discussion with their parents.
Protected elements of education records include, but are not limited
to, test scores, grade point averages, disciplinary information and
financial data. Many students want to give parents or family members
access to these records so that they can work in partnership in
advancing the studentís well-being and academic progress.
Discussions between students and parents about the information
contained in a studentís education records can encourage students to
use the academic, counseling and other services that can help them
reach their academic and personal goals.
Students and parents should be aware that FERPA does allow colleges
and universities to provide information to parents and guardians
regarding the use or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs if the
student is under the age of 21, without obtaining the studentís
written permission. This exception is critical to encourage parents
and students to work together in addressing substance use and abuse
To facilitate the sharing of information, SMU offers an easy method
for students to grant permission and for parents to access education
records online at Access.SMU, the Universityís student information
system. Students use Access.SMU to check grades and tuition balances
and update their contact information, among other services. Through
the Release of Education Records feature in the self-service
component of Access.SMU, students can provide their consent for
their parents to view some or all elements of their education
records. The studentís authorization takes effect immediately and
remains in effect until the student revokes it or until it expires
one year after the studentís last enrollment date at SMU.
Once authorization is granted, parents will have confidential access
to view records in Access.SMU, such as unofficial transcripts,
financial aid information and tuition balances. To view other
records after authorization is granted Ė including degree progress,
academic advising and judicial records Ė parents must contact the
particular office holding the records.
Contact information for departments and offices holding the records
can be found on the University Registrarís Web site Ė
www.smu.edu/registrar/ferpa/ Ė in the Education Records
section. Parents and students also can find step-by-step
instructions for releasing and viewing records on the Web site,
along with more information about FERPA.
The University Registrarís Office also continues to welcome
questions or comments about FERPA by phone at 214-768-3417 or by
We encourage parents and students to use this online service, which
we hope will be helpful in fostering communication that facilitates
a rewarding and successful educational experience for our students.
Lori S. White
Vice President for Student Affairs
PO Box 750471
Dallas, TX 75275