Student Records and Confidentiality

Student Records and Confidentiality

The campus faculty, staff, and administration are committed to supporting our students in meeting their educational goals and assisting families in doing the same. However, when providing information about students, we must follow guidelines set by the federal government and the University.

Certain items are considered public record and are available to the public without a student's prior consent: name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major, student activities, athletic team weight/height, dates of attendance, enrollment status, dates of graduation, degrees and awards received, most recent educational institution attended, name and address of family, guardians, or spouse. Any student that does not want all or part of this information available should make that request in writing to the Registrar, 105 Main Building.

Public Law 93-380, the "Educational Amendment of 1974" includes the Buckley Amendment. It stipulates that no student record shall be disclosed by any means to individuals or agencies outside of the educational institution without consent of the student. Penn State requires that such permission be in writing and specify the particular record to be released. This means that no course grade, whether partial (as in a progress report) or complete, and no other indicator of course performance (such as an attendance record) shall be released verbally or in writing to anyone, not even a family member, without the student's permission. Paper copies of grades are NOT sent home. Students can obtain their grades electronically through eLion or by phone 800-876-0354.

Even if it were not a matter of federal law, the practice of not disclosing academic information is consistent with our policy of the process of college education: we consider the student to be the adult agent of action with the University. This does not mean you cannot seek help when you need it! You can call us with your concerns. We will urge your student to discuss their issues and concerns with you, and with their permission, we can all discuss them together.

Mail from Penn State

Your student will receive important mailings from the University that concern tuition payments, financial aid, course confirmations, scholarships, academic progress, and health requirements.

Almost all of these are addressed to the student. No matter who is actually paying the bills, the University sees the student as an adult and communicates directly to him/her.

What can you do? First, we do not recommend that family members open student's mail. However, you can be aware of mail arriving, encourage your student to open and read everything that comes from Penn State, and suggest that your student share the contents with you and discuss it.

Mail that is not opened and put aside might contain important academic, financial, or personal information. Ignoring it could result in unnecessary problems or delays.

Disciplinary Violations

The University reserves the right to report student discipline information to the family or legal guardian of students. Recent federal legislation authorizes Penn State to disclose records of disciplinary violations concerning violations of state, federal, or local law governing the use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances that involve students under the age of 21, regardless of whether the student is a dependent.

The University may also report general information of dependent students under circumstances described in the Student Guide to University Policies and Rules. See the following University web sites for more information: