Student Privacy

Maintaining the privacy of student educational records is an important priority for Penn State. Students have the right to access their grades, transcripts and other educational records under established University policies. Parents and family members are advised to discuss this issue with their student if there is an expectation that these records will be shared.

Penn State Policies on the Privacy of Student Educational Records

Federal legislation, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 identifies the rights of students and their families with respect to student educational records kept by institutions. As part of the requirements of FERPA, the University has a Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records (policy AD-11). The University has also developed related policies that concentrate on the use of institutional data (policy AD-23) and computer and network security (policy AD-20).

Penn State is committed to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of a student's Social Security number. The Social Security number is requested at the time of degree or nondegree application to the University, but is used in a very limited and controlled manner. The primary student identification number used to conduct University business is the PSU ID, which is assigned at the time of first affiliation with Penn State. This practice is further described in policy AD-19.

Educational records of dependent students

When the student reaches the age of 18 or begins attending a postsecondary institution, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer from the parent to the student. This means that parents may not obtain any of their student's education records without the written consent of the student.

Since student grades are part of the education record, they are protected under FERPA and, therefore, may not be released to parents. Students have access to their semester grades in one of two ways:

In addition, students may provide consent for their parent to view grades via eLion as follows:

  • A parent must have a Penn State User ID. Parents who do not have a Penn State access account may obtain a "Friends of Penn State" account. Go to eLion and select "Parent/Other." Select "Create an Account." Follow instructions to obtain a "Friends of Penn State" User ID.
  • Parents must provide their Penn State User ID to their student.
  • The student must grant their parent access in eLion by selecting "Parent/Other Access" on the left-hand menu, selecting "Continue," and following the instructions to grant access to the Grades and/or Student Schedule functions.

Once access has been granted by the student, the parent may log into eLion as Parent/Other, and select "Grades."

For more information, see the U.S. Department of Education's brochure, "Parents' Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act: Rights Regarding Children's Education Records."