Texas Tech University

Mailbag: Checking In

Allen Ramsey

January 6, 2023

As the new semester nears, the Mailbag returns to answer an important question for parents.

Welcome back!

Visit the emergency communications website.  

The Mailbag would like to start 2023 by wishing you all a happy New Year. We hope your holiday season was festive and bright and that you're as ready as we are to kick off the new semester. 

We've been away for a couple of weeks and while we were gone, we got one question through our chat over and over. It seems that many parents are concerned with not being able to see their student's grades. 

So, in hopes of helping our chat monitor out, today we're going to talk about FERPA. 

For those unfamiliar, FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and it pertains to the release of and access to educational records. 

FERPA basically states that the university can only release information about a registered student over the age of 18 if the student completes a FERPA form allowing somebody else access. 

Here's a FERPA form, and as you can see it doesn't just cover grades. Authorization to release student information is needed for a student's business account, financial aid information, academic records and application records. 

For parents wanting more information on FERPA, here's a great place to start

All of this is to say that Texas Tech University cannot legally share records with you without the consent of your student if they are 18 or older. 

As an office with more than a few Red Raider parents in it, we understand this can be frustrating, but it's worth noting that FERPA is about protecting students and their privacy from potential harm. 

Texas Tech's Office of the Registrar shared they have plans for “a portal that will ensure individuals who have been authorized by the student have a secure means to access that information and that it is presented in a user-friendly manner,” but there is no firm timeline on when that portal will be available. 

While we can't give you access to your student's grades, we can help you understand the process. 

Faculty are given a deadline for posting final grades each semester and those deadlines are listed at the bottom of the academic calendar that is publicly available. This won't help a parent without a FERPA waiver view the grades (again, there's nothing we can do about that) but a parent will know with certainty the grades were posted and can have an open dialogue with their student. 

“We encourage families to have an open, honest and proactive conversation with their students about sharing academic progress, and that starts as early as orientation,” said Director of Parent & Family Relations Christine Self. “Every family will have different needs. Sometimes encouraging the student to sign a FERPA waiver might be the right direction. But what we stress is having those conversations before grades are posted and addressing what the reaction will be if the student isn't doing as well as hoped, which will open the lines of communication.

“Our office also stresses families knowing about all the resources available to help their student succeed. It can be very concerning if a family believes their student isn't doing well, but the student isn't willing to talk with them about it. What we want is to make sure the family can at least point to the resources available on campus to help the student turn a disappointing situation into a win.”

Many of the resources for parents are available through Self's office and can be found on this page, where you can subscribe to the Parent & Family eNewsletter, find a parent and family webinar series, and click through other things already linked in this post like the academic calendar.

Our chat monitor also brought up a common question from parents about signing up for TechAlert, which we decided to address quickly while we have the attention of parents. 

Unlike FERPA waivers for records, the university publishes every TechAlert on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with our emergency communications website and our homepage. 

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